Confessions of an e-mail junky

Email-OverloadOne month ago I’ve made one of the best decisions in my life so far:

I deleted my business e-mail account from my tablet and smartphone.

When I got my first smartphone years ago, my first thoughts were “great, now I can read my e-mail any time anywhere!”. Using the push-mechanism emails were delivered continuously throughout the day accompanied with some distracting sounds. After a week I started using the silent, vibrating modus and never turned it on since.

But checking my phone with every vibration started to get annoying real soon. The next step was switching from ‘push’ to ‘pull’. This ought to be the holy grail for a productive day, without getting disturbed continuously but still having the opportunity to check my mailbox whenever it suits.

The pull mechanism might work for most people, but for me it didn’t. I started checking my e-mail the first thing in the morning, with breakfast, during lunch, on the bathroom, before going to bed etc; actually whenever I got the opportunity, which didn’t have to be longer then one minute, I was checking my email.

For a long time I was proud of this. I read (an answered) most e-mails within the hour no matter what time it was. It took a while before I realized I was sort of addicted. It was more than an innocent habit. I was an e-mail junky..

Last year I finally understood the negative consequences, for example:

  • Checking my mail continuously ensured me to be working practically every day (including the weekend)
  • I couldn’t give ideas and issues enough incubation time, but responded with whatever came to mind, which were not always the best answers
  • The more e-mails I sent, the more I received. My ‘inbox zero’ policy was impossible to achieve.
  • Most of the time, the sender didn’t expect a quick answer, but while I was doing this continuously, this became the standard and expectation.
  • Being at home, I wasn’t really present and truly available for my family

These are only a few examples, but the important consequence is that it made me stressful, tired and restless. Knowing that the flood of mail won’t stop.

Therefore last month I’ve made the ‘brave’ decision and deleted my business mail account. And maybe strange to mention, but I immediately really felt relieved. Some burden fell of my shoulders. Best of all; ever since I’ve got the feeling to be in control again. Having more time to read, write and spend true quality time with my family. Most e-mails that I don’t directly answer are handled by colleagues or aren’t relevant anymore. And the e-mails that do need my attention are processed in time-boxes 2 or 3 times a day.

For now, I’m truly satisfied with my decision and intended not to become an e-mail junky anymore!