A couple of weeks ago I started an experiment. I realised that I tend to let myself be interrupted by emails from my students. They email me with a question regarding the coursework and I drop whatever I am doing to answer. They hand in their essays and I would feel obligated to read it immediately. I would even feel that way with obvious questions and questions born from laziness.
So I decided to put a stop to this because it seriously disturbed my writing flow (and summer break is the time for writing). With regard to essays and such I decided neither to read nor to grade them until a set date in September. With the exception of Bachelor’s thesis because those have a fixed deadline and take much longer to read and grade (at least if you care to do your job properly).
As for emails I assigned specific time slots to answering them. I will answer all emails first thing in the morning. I mean, I will answer emails once I am at the office, have my cup of coffee ready and my old Windows computer fired up. If there is particularly much traffic in my inbox I will open a second time slot in the afternoon but I will not answers any email after 18:00. Nor will I answer emails on the weekend and seriously, what is up with people asking me on Sunday whether thay can come to see me on Monday during office hours? I am not dignifying that with a response.
So far prioritising my own work – my actual work because I am supposed to spend 60% of my working time with my dissertation – has worked wonders. No more ‚where was I?‘ when I go back to today’s chapter. Also I am rarely too screen tired to work on my dissertation anymore. It is much easier to answer emails with a headache (Do you want to turn your headache into a migraine? Because that’s how you turn your headache into a migraine.) than it is to string coherent thoughts together.