A friend asked me how I can work without any mail notifications. Are you kidding me? How could I possibly work WITH mail notifications?
Apple has done a great job of building in several mail notifications into OS X. Mail.app can stick a badge in your dock and make a very cute little "dingy" sort of sound every time a new message arrives. That is not all though. Using third party software you can make your system growl and even shoot off fancy graphics every time you get a note from Amazon about something "you may want to buy" or even a message about "cheap prescription medication." I asked my friend, "How on earth do you get anything done with all those pyrotechnics?"
I just don't believe it is possible to keep your focus if your eyes and ears are trained to jump like a Pavlovian dog everytime someone (or somebot) decides to send you a note. Think about it. If you get an email every 5 minutes, that is 12 interruptions an hour and 96 interruptions in an 8 hour work-day. Just think how much faster you could work with 480 less interruptions a week.
This doesn't mean that I don't want my system to check email for me. I just want to be in control of the situation .. not the other way around.
The way I accomplish this is a few simple checkboxes in Apple Mail.
New Mail Sound: None = No ding.
Dock Unread Count: None = No tempting badge.
That is all there is to it. Note I did not turn off auto mail checking. When I do decide that I want to process mail, I want it already loaded. This gives me the benefit of current email without the devastating interruptions.
If you are carrying a smart phone, you also need to turn off the notifications there as well. On my iPhone it is done as follows:
This is all found under the "Sound" menu of the "Settings" button. Before everyone starts firing up your email to me, I *know* sms notifications are still turned on. There are only a few people who text me and when they do, it (usually) is a legitimate interruption.