I always get a chuckle out of the advice from meditation gurus to take a few minutes every morning to be grateful, since in Judaism we already have that built in. We start off our day with “Modeh Ani”—a moment to offer thanks to G‑d for the gift of another day of life and all the opportunities within it. The message to us in the first moments of wakefulness is to make sure we give significance to what is truly important.

So as a bazillion things cry out for our attention each day, it’s good to stay focused on what gets priority. And what better place to start than your inbox?

Shockingly, technology was actually designed to save time, but when we have an overflowing inbox full of unread emails, 16 voicemails, and 24Shockingly, technology was actually designed to save time texts to respond to, it certainly doesn’t seem to be helping much at all.

If you truly want to maximize your productivity, you must unplug from those distractions you love to hate.

Here are some of my tips for limiting email consumption and production ... and yes, it does hurt a little at the beginning.

1) Communicate effectively

Rethink the way you communicate with people.

What is the most effective and efficient way to get your message across? Often, email or texting can be more effective than phone calls. Also, just because people leave you messages, it doesn’t mean you have to call them back. If they are active email or text users, then communicate your way. (Please note, this most likely doesn’t work for your elders, so the rules of “kibbud av v’em,” honoring your parents, surpass these rules).

2) Stop checking email all day

Use all the willpower you can possibly muster (and maybe even borrow some from your neighbor), and commit to check your email fewer times each day.

A primary goal for anyone looking to save time is to limit emailing. I know it feels efficient when you are able to respond to someone right away, but remember that when you are efficient at the expense of being effective, you are moving further away from your time-management goal. Twice a day should be sufficient, or a little more depending on your workload. Consider having a tagline explaining your new email protocol if you are concerned people will think you are being rude.

3) Goodbye email, hello world

Take email off your iPhone, too. Yes, you read correctly.You will save oodles of time and precious brain power by responding to messages just a couple times a day. Feel free to respond in point form to be more efficient, too.

5) Stop living with the flashing lights

Take email off your iPhone, too

Turn off the audible alert that pings when a new email comes into your inbox or iPhone. This allows you to “batch” reading your emails, rather than peppering your entire day with message interruptions that will slowly and silently drive you insane.

6) Where are you going?

I strongly recommend planning five to eight tasks you must do the following day. Consider your specific tasks for the day as your destination. Look at email, social networking, and phone calls as distractions along the way, and only “stop” if they are essential. Once your specific tasks have been taken care of, you can be a little less driven.

7) Set an alarm

When you do sit down to take care of your email, decide ahead of time how much time you are going to spend and set an alarm. I recommend www.e.ggtimer.com as a great way to plan your time.

8) Talk to those who matter to you

Don’t sacrifice friendships in the name of efficiency. It’s still important to have heart-to-heart conversations with your loved ones regularly. Pirkei Avos teaches, “knei lecha chaver” (acquire a friend for yourself). A true friend is one of the best commodities we can invest in. Make sure the friends and family members who make you a better person get a slot on your calendar, too.

By taking these steps to minimize distractions and focus on our priorities for the day, we reduce frustration, save time, and fulfill our personal mission in life—which is exactly what our time was designed for.