“Spam is the best kind of email to get, because you look at it quickly, see that it’s spam, and delete it. Then you get back to work. Personal email is the second best kind of email to get, because you either respond quickly (“Hi Jane, great hearing from you. See you at the club tonight.”) or set it aside for later. Task-oriented work email is the worst kind of email to get. It often requires thought, and because it is work there is some immediacy to it. But as soon as you take the time to respond, you’ve interrupted yourself. You’ve shifted back to “left brain mode”, and you’ve lost the thread of your concentration.” Ole Eichhorn says: don’t keep your e-mail reader open while you work on other stuff.
—The Tyranny of EmailW=UH)
This article is written by a programmer, who refers to shifting between left brain mode (to communicate with others) and right brain mode (to get programming work done). Presumably, then, his advice doesn’t hold if one’s work is primarily “left brain”. Maybe I have to shift even farther left when I need to block out some time to read a literary text for enjoyment. Since my undergraduate days I’ve enjoyed being able to swing between brain hemispheres when one gets tired.