How I Stopped Email From Running My Life

For the longest time, I would check my email hundreds of times a day. It was a bad reflex. I would consistently just check it throughout the day. If I added up the time, I knew I would be very sad about it. I tried and tried to resist the urge to check but I still found myself in email constantly. It wasn’t just on my computer but also on my phone. The phone might have been my biggest enabler.

My first step

The first thing I did to stop checking email was an accident. My iPhone camera had a speck of dust on the inside of the glass. Little did I know it was this little piece of dust that was going to save me…

I went to the Mall of America with my daughter on a Friday afternoon. I was taking her and a friend to the amusement park for the day and when I got there, I thought I should swap this phone out at the Apple store. So I got them their wristbands and headed over to the Apple store to do my exchange. Everything went well but then, because I have strong passwords, I wasn’t able to setup my password software or email. I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack all day. Once I got through the day, I never put email on my phone again.

I always understood the idea of Inbox Zero and practiced for stints of time but when I was getting email on my phone, I’d check it when I was away from my desk but I’d leave emails in my inbox so I could deal with them later. Eventually, I’d get overrun by emails and then found myself not practicing the fundamentals of Inbox Zero.

Great but I sit at a computer most of the day

I do lots of different things at my computer and email always seemed to pull my focus away from what I really had to be doing. In any given day I find myself recording music, editing video, programming, writing, strategic planning, and many other things on top of email communication. I took the idea of leaving email off of my phone and applied it to my computer. I created two additional logins on my computer called Development and Video. I don’t have email setup on either of these logins and it forces me to switch user account to check my email. I did this about six months ago and it has really helped me from checking my email incessantly during the day. When I have time scheduled to focus on correspondence, I switch back to my main account and take care of email.

Creating the separate accounts also let me customize my toolbar for each account’s focus. This helped my productivity in ways other than email. When I’m editing video, I don’t need access to my text editor very often. Depending on the role I’m working on, I need regular access to different software and I use my toolbar to help me keep things a single click away.

You still have to condition your clients

This is just a tool to protect you from yourself. You still have to create a climate with your clients so answering email once a day is acceptable, but that is for another post…

Comments are closed.