For creative work, says this month’s issue of Poets and Writers, it’s important to avoid distractions like e-mail. This is because we actually think better if there is less stuff in our brain. Billy Collins supports this idea when he claims that boredom is his best inspiration for writing poems. Since we can’t stare at the ocean every day before working on our dissertations, at the very least we can keep our information gathering contained. I am personally terrible at this–I probably check my e-mail five or six times a day. But I only answer e-mails every few days, which means I’ve got stuff in my brain rattling around needlessly.
If e-mail is a treat for you, check it at the end of your work day. But if you’re like me and open your inbox when you’re bored, it’s probably time to give it a rest. Boredom could be your ticket to a new insight on your work.