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In 2018 research by RescueTime found that the average knowledge worker checks their emails every 6 minutes!

This is quite a depressing stat, but sadly not that surprising. I’ve often found myself bogged down in emails and ‘running the business’ rather than actually doing my work. In fact it has sometimes felt like running my business revolves around clearing my email inbox instead of working towards any greater purpose.

Recently, I felt it was finally time for some more extreme measures and separate my production software (such as design and coding tools) from my emails and other distracting dopamine dispensers.

After pondering my options for a while my original idea was to actually go as far as buying a separate second hand laptop. However the practicality of having to store and lug around another machine as well as the cost put me off.

Sometime later I realised I could actually just create a second user profile on my MacBook and split my software between them.

Production and management user profiles

My current setup is this:

Profile 1: Production

Profile 2: Management and marketing

The general idea is the production profile only has the tools required to DO THE WORK and non of the distracting stuff I would normally compulsively check when my mind wanders.

The two key linking elements are the project management software Trello and the shared drive.

I check emails in the morning, lunch and at the end of the day. I can then register any tasks and notes on the relevant projects Trello board and upload any supplied assets to the shared drive.

When working in the production profile, I have access to only the information (in Trello) and files (in the shared drive) I need for the tasks at hand. I also avoid the risk of being redirected/distracted/stressed seeing any new emails.

If I wish to check messages out of the set times, I first have to weigh up whether it’s worth the effort of closing down all the design and development software I have open (which is often quite a lot), switching profiles and then firing it all up again afterwards. Adding this amount of extra resistance is surprisingly effective for helping focus on my work.


How does it work in practice

This new setup has been a great success for helping focus on my work. When concentrating, I feel ‘safe’ from outside distractions. Furthermore, the more addictive tools are hidden away enough to avoid using them.

Instead of being able to do ALL THE THINGS (and therefore struggling to do any of them) I can by design only do the things I need to do.