Have you ever felt like you spend most of your day in your email inbox? Many people are bombarded with tens, or hundreds, of emails each day.
We live in a world where we feel like we have to be connected and be available at any moment, and for many of us our email inbox is at the heart of this issue.
But thats not what email was created for. It wasn’t designed to control our day, and occupy all our time. It was meant to help us achieve more and communicate more effectively. Sadly that focus has disappeared for many of us.
Its not too late tho. You can reclaim your time, and get control over your email. I have, and you can too!
So starting a week ago I decided to turn off email notifications on my phone, iPad and computer. The only way that I will be notified that I have a new email is if I actually open up my email inbox.
At first I was unsure if I would like this or not, but I couldn’t be happier after the first week.
It is so easy to get caught up with all the distractions that surround us each and every day. The constant ringing of our phone, the dings of text messages, and the sounds of emails flooding our inbox have become so normal that it seems we forget what it is like to have some peace and quiet.
The Reasons I Turned Off Email Notifications
- Email is NOT my one thing. According to The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, the key to being effective and achieving success is to focus on our ONE thing. It is the thing that matters the most, the thing that we would be happy to have accomplished in our day if that was all we achieved. Can you really say that if all you achieved in your day was going through email that you would feel satisfied with your day? I can’t.
- I want (and need) some quiet. Have you ever felt like you are going to lose your mind if you hear your phone ding one more time with an email notification? I have, and its not a fun feeling. Email is great, but the distraction it provides is not. Especially when you are trying to work on something important. Its so nice to have some quiet time to be able to focus on whatever I am doing with out my email interrupting me constantly.
- Focusing on email is not essential. Just as email is not my one thing, it is not essential to my life or business. Yes I use it as a big part just like everyone else these days, but it is not the most important. In his book Essentialism, author Greg McKeown encourages us to focus only on that which is truly essential and get rid of everything else. While I would not be able to go days or weeks without checking email, I certainly can go hours without doing so.
- Checking email can become addictive. What is the first thing that you do in the morning? If you are like many people you probably check email, or at least you check it very soon after waking up. I used to be the same way. It’s almost an addiction when you see the little notification bubble telling you that you have “x” amount of emails that came in over night. This was the biggest reason I decided to get rid of the notifications. Now that I don’t see that bubble I don’t feel the need to check email right away.
Now that I no longer receive the email notifications it is up to me to check my email. I have implemented a simple process to ensure that I am still effective at responding to emails without letting it run my life:
- Set aside time to check email every day. I now check my email at the beginning of my work day, not during my morning routine like I used to. I check it again before lunch, and again shortly before the end of the day. I am not someone that needs to be available all the time (and neither are you most likely). If someone can’t wait the few hours for me to respond until the next time I check my email I am confident they will find another way to get ahold of me.
- Batch email during that time. Once you have set aside a block of time to check your email, start with 10-15 minutes each time, you next need to focus on quickly sorting your email and deciding what (if anything) needs your immediate attention. Then take the time to respond to every email you can during this time you have scheduled. Don’t let other things distract you. During the block I set aside towards the end of the day I also focus on getting my inbox to zero.
- Ignore it the rest of the day. This is pretty self explanatory. Just don’t open your email. This may seem hard for the first few days, but after that you will wonder why you checked your email so often before.
I used to think that email was urgent. I treated it like a life or death situation, and therefore I let it control my time.
I’m done with that. And you should be too. Give it a try for a few days and I think you will be amazed how great it feels to not constantly let email interrupt your day.