Several years ago, I wrote about how I was taking steps to reduce my dependence on email. You should go give it a read if you haven’t before.
Like a good diet, I fell off that bandwagon after months and months of doing
Since I own my own business, I spend a lot of time in email conversing with clients, employees, contractors, and random people I’m trying to convince to give me money. I organize conferences, user groups, and a variety of other professional events. I’m active in my church, and get CCed on just about everything.
I came to the realization that email itself was making me anxious.
For example, I’d get up in the morning and quickly check email as a part of my morning routine. Some days were fine, but then other days I’d get an email that would totally ruin me for the entire day.
Email became my fidget. If I was standing in line at the store, at a stop light, or just walking towards a building, I’d get my phone out and quickly check my email.
The absolute worse time to check email is when you physically cannot respond to it. Some emails I forgot about, accidentally archived, or just said “I’ll deal with this later”.
Then one day I came to a realization: the email on the phone had to go.
It was so easy. Delete.
Additionally, I added a message to my email signature specifically stating that I’m returning to my twice-a-day email routine, and I did not carry it on my device. Emergencies needed to move to phone calls or text messages.
You’d be amazed how quickly an “emergency” dies down when someone has to pick up a phone.
As of this writing, I’ve been without email on my device for two weeks. My level of anxiety is pretty much gone. Email takes all of 5-15 minutes depending on what I need to respond to. And best of all, email can only happen when I’m at my laptop - and that is a controlled situation.
I encourage everyone to take a break from email. Even if it removing notifications or reducing your time to twice daily – it is amazing how liberating it can be to not need to check email constantly.
We cannot forget that email is asynchronous. In the same way we’d have to wait for snail mail or carrier pigeon, and email doesn’t need to be received or answered immediately. There is no difference between a 2 minute response time and a 12 hour response time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about email. Does it rule your life or have you figure out how to tame it for the best? Leave a comment below!