It’s 10:13 AM and you haven’t checked your email in at least 3 minutes. You’re already anxious that you might have missed something important. So you open your email client back up and frantically hit the send/receive button.
Does this sound like you? It sure sounds like me a few months back. I constantly checked my email every minute I was awake looking for that super important message. It became a habit that was very difficult to break.
Luckily, I decided to cut back on my email usage. Why? Because it’s not a good thing to spend your time doing. Here’s a few good reasons to cut back on your email usage:
It’s Habit Forming
The worst thing about checking your email is that it is habit forming. You start to do it more and more without even realizing it. Before you know it, you are checking it in your sleep. Don’t believe me? Check out this article that I just read over at Boing Boing. It talks about a woman that sent out some emails while she was sleepwalking. She didn’t even remember doing it. I have a feeling she uses a lot of email when she is awake (or it was the meds).
It’s Not That Important
It’s time to face the facts that your email isn’t that important. Sure, you might be a CEO or manager of a department but that still doesn’t change anything. Don’t get me wrong, there are some certain circumstances where you might need to check your email all the time (technical support perhaps?). But that doesn’t apply to everyone.
If someone had a message that had to get to you, they would call you or find a different means of communication. You should be spending your time getting work DONE, not writing back and forth to people talking about the work you are GOING to do.
It Kills Your Productivity
Worst of all, checking your email reduces your productivity. It becomes a constant distraction that keeps you from doing the things you should be doing. Want some proof? Here is a quick summary from a study that was done a few years ago:
“In a study last year, Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University, England, found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email (bit.ly/email2). So people who check their email every five minutes waste 81/2hours a week figuring out what they were doing moments before.”
You can check out the rest of the article here. It’s worth a read, especially if you are sitting around waiting for your weekend to start.
So What Do You Do?
That’s the real question. Tim Ferriss mentioned the idea of using an autoresponder which seems like it could work. However, it doesn’t work that well if you have people that email you a few times everyday.
So instead, I have been trying to stick to a schedule where I check my email every hour. I figure 10 times a day is far better than the 10 times an hour I used to do. Now if I could just cut it back to once very 3 hours. That’s going to be tough…
Do you check your email a lot? Have any suggestions to kick the habit?
Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow