I still remember the first time I got email on my phone. The model was Windows O2…so yes, even before the advent of the Blackberry.
I was excited by the technological advancement and had thought:
“Wow, this is going to make me SO productive! I can check email wherever I go, and reply to it Super Fast.”
Yeah naive of me!
I didn’t realize at the time that email would soon turn into a productivity liability instead of an asset.
Email on phone robbed me of my freedom to focus. I would be sitting with someone and in the back of my the audio keep looping: “I wonder if I got a reply from my customer”, “Did the agency send me the latest version of the AD?”. A few spare moments and my hand would reach out to my “ever connected” phone and open the email app, just to get a buzz of knowing “Whats New!”
But the story has a happy ending.
I came to terms with my addiction
Email addiction is not an exaggeration. (If anything, it’s an understatement). We are uber-addicted to our digital devices. And it literally robs us of our precious resources that we need to create value in this world. Namely:
What’s the solution?
Unless it’s your Job to constantly check email. You need to resist the urge to sneak a look at your inbox every few minutes. Dell has released this utterly hilarious ‘flowchart’ that should be a nice little jolt to all the mail junkies out there.
Laughs apart, here are two steps that worked really well for me.
Step 1: Installing Inbox Pause
I have done a more detailed post of how this app has helped me. You can check it here. In short, what Inbox Pause will do is deliver email to your Inbox just 3 times a day. So even though I still have email on my phone. It gets delivered to my Inbox only 3 times a day. There is just no incentive for me to keep checking it again & again.
Step 2: Replacing the Habit of Checking My Email with Checking My To-do List
Out of habit, I still open my phone to check email. According to Charles Duhigg author of Power of Habit, it is very difficult to change a deeply ingrained tendency. So I put in place a sneaky little substitution. I’ve created a shortcut to my to-do list on my phone. Now whenever I reach out to check email, I have this to-do list app staring at me, reminding me of the hundred fruitful tasks I can be working on instead of being a slave to my inbox.
Here’s the profound insight:
When you’re checking email, most likely addressing other people’s agendas.
But when you’re checking your To-Do list, you’re managing YOUR own agenda.
We live in a world where communication is practically free. The upsides are obvious, but the downside is we are overwhelmed with incoming messages that are constantly pulling our attention a dozen ways.
We end up spending all your time responding to these external stimuli that rarely do us much good.
At the end of a busy day, ask yourself “How many truly productive things did I accomplish today?”
The answer will not make you happy! Climb out of the rut of checking email constantly. You’ll feel a world of difference in your ability to get ‘more’ of what matters done.
I believe our work should be an expression of our most creative selves. I work with business owners and their teams to achieve stress-free productivity.