The cult of multitasking would have us believe that compulsive message-checking is the behavior of an always-on, hyper-productive worker. But it’s not. It’s the sign of a distracted employee who misguidedly believes he can do multiple tasks at one time. Science disagrees. People may be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, but they can’t do two or more thinking tasks simultaneously.I have dual monitors on my desk (well three actually, if you count my linux box that I use for bioinformatics) and one of them has Outlook open on it essentially 24/7. Perhaps I need to rethink having constant access to my email. That would also mean shutting down my BlackBerry Bold 9700 -- a truly sweet little device -- but it may be a sacrifice I need to make for the sake of productivity.
According to a study done by Oklahoma State University (PPT, 28 slides), checking email four times a day, at prescribed times (regime C4, see slide 19), led to the most efficient handling of email and work.