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Department of Health and Human Services

Increasing productivity by limiting distracting blast e-mails

Our workdays are frequently interrupted by "blast" emails intended for broad audiences. These emails serve as random interruptions that break up the rhythm of our work-tasks, and reduce our attention span and productivity. There are many peer-reviewed scientific journal articles supporting the negative effects of random distractions on attention and productivity, including reductions of our energy and efficiency. This problem is easiliy mitigated by instilling a policy in which "blast" emails are set to be sent using Microsoft Outlook's delayed send function. Using this feature, emails not requiring immediate attention are recieved after working hours for review the next working day during one email session, as opposed to randomly interspersed as is currently done. This simple fix will increase our productivity and employee satisfaction, improving our quality of life. Common senders that often could be candidates for a delayed send that I notice at FDA are the CDRH Center-Wide Agency Info Sender, Office of Information Management News, Traction.Admin, HHS News,Financial Service News, Staff College, eCTD Clinic and HR Procedural announcements that do not need to be immediately read. Other government departments could create their own list of candidates for delayed sending of non-urgent messages. Urgent notifications of course still could be sent immediately, and this policy will only increase user's focus on such urgent messages.

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Idea No. 287