Trellis White paper Ad 770 Spot #6
share TWEET PIN IT share share 0
Microsoft Outlook Tip

Who’s the Boss—You or the Beep?

By Dan Pinnington

Most people get a beep and a new message pop-up box every single time a new e-mail message arrives in their inbox.

Stop the Insanity!

You know its true: This is the biggest source of interruptions in your day. That beep goes off, the pop-up appears on your screen, your train of thought gets derailed and, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, you stop whatever you are doing to bounce into your inbox and read the newly arrived message.

With all due respect, the vast majority (if not all) of the messages that most of us receive are rarely so important that we need to know within 7 milliseconds that they have arrived in our inboxes.

Exercise some self-control. Give yourself, your productivity and your jangled nerves a break and turn the new message pop-up off. Okay, go with just the beep if you must (even that will be a moderate improvement), but I urge you to consider turning that off, too, because it is a big distraction as well.

You will be surprised, even awed, by how much more work you will get done without pop-ups and beeps interrupting you all day. And, while your productivity improves, you will still, most importantly, get all your messages but you will read them when you choose. All you need to do is check your inbox at reasonably regular intervals, which you are probably already doing anyway—for example, first thing in the morning, when you go for a coffee, before and after lunch, and the like.

It is easy to turn off the new message pop-up and beep in most e-mail programs. In most versions of Microsoft Outlook, you simply do the following:

  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Options.
  2. Click on the Preferences tab.
  3. Click on the E-mail Options button.
  4. Uncheck the “Display a notification message when new mail arrives” box.

And no cheating with your smartphone! Take that BlackBerry or iPhone or whatever you use off your hip, turn the vibrate mode off, and place it upside down on your desk so you cant see the little red LED flashing ad nauseum.

Dan Pinnington helps lawyers avoid malpractice claims at and

Subscribe to Attorney at Work

Help us grow (and get really good ideas every day): Subscribe to the Daily Dispatch!


Categories: Daily Dispatch, Lawyer Productivity, Lawyer Time Management, Legal Technology
Originally published December 10, 2010
Last updated October 23, 2011
share TWEET PIN IT share share
Dan Pinnington Dan Pinnington

Dan Pinnington is President and CEO of Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO) in Toronto, where he helps lawyers avoid malpractice claims. He is a Fellow and Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management and a prolific writer, speaker and blogger on risk management, legal technology and law practice management issues. Follow him on Twitter @DanPinnington.

More Posts By This Author
MUST READ Articles for Law Firms Click to expand

Welcome to Attorney at Work!

Sign up for our free newsletter.


All fields are required. By signing up, you are opting in to Attorney at Work's free practice tips newsletter and occasional emails with news and offers. By using this service, you indicate that you agree to our Terms and Conditions and have read and understand our Privacy Policy.