“You run the day, or day runs you” – Twitter user
I will admit it, email sometimes runs my day.There are days that I feel like I live in my in-box. It starts off innocently enough with a “quick” email check in the early morning, and then, it’s late afternoon.
Choose to live your life on purpose and determine how you want to run your day. Is it more important to respond to an email within 45 seconds or to do meaningful work? There is nothing like a quick response, but by offering this service every day, all the time, you are training your customers, colleagues and even friends and family that you are waiting by your email to respond to them, immediately. More importantly, it is distracting you. Because there is no such thing as an effective multi-tasker, this lack of focus will seep into the quality of your work and creativity. I understand that technology has advanced the immediacy of how we communicate, but until there was email, I never thought regular mail was slow. Now that we have Twitter and instant messaging and text services, email seems slow. Keeping up with the speed of technology will only slow you down.
There will always be someone demanding your attention, and you have to decide how to give it to them in a way that works best for you. I get it, you are busy. You have lots of work to do. Stop checking your email every 3 minutes and see how that changes your work. See if it affects how busy you really are.
See what my minimalist mentors have to say about checking email.
- Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist: You remove the mail from your mailbox everyday. Apply the same principle to your Inbox. To accomplish this, if you can answer an email in less than two minutes, do it right away. If it will take longer, move it into a “work in progress” folder.
- Leo from Zen Habits: “I got this idea from Mike Davidson, whose article came at a perfect time as I was limiting other things in my life, and was also trying to keep my emails short at that time. His 5-sentence rule (no email can be longer than 5 sentences) fit in perfectly with everything else I tried to do, and I’ve adopted it. It forces you to write only what’s essential.”
- Everett Bogue from Far Beyond the stars: “Eight hours of receiving and reacting to email will similarly not get important work done. When you batch respond to email during fifteen minute intervals once a day, you get less email and also have many empty hours in the day. Empty hours are uncomfortable, and I’m convinced that most of us are terrified of them. This is why we spend all day hitting refresh buttons waiting to react to messages that don’t matter. This is why we fill up our schedules with meaningless meetings which ask questions that we already know the answers to.”
Do you want to spend your day reacting to email or creating good work and enjoying life? How often do you check your email?
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