It’s amazing how many articles you can find out there if you do a search for “stop checking email.” Even more interesting, is that almost all of these articles revolve around how much happier, less stressed and more productive we would all be if we could do this one seemingly simple task.
Of course, as many of you know – it’s not that simple.
If you’re like a majority of office workers in the U.S., you work at a computer for a good portion of your day where your email is constantly open and accessible. And, even if you don’t work in front of a computer, you probably have access to your email on your phone or tablet.
So with such easy access, how can you keep yourself from looking at your email when you know you likely have a new message awaiting you on one of these devices?
1. Set a limit on the number of times each day that you will check your email.
A good starting point? Three to five times per day (8am, 10am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm). Now, to many of you this might seem like absolute torture – or simply impossible with the type of work that you do. But, if you think about it, this method can allow you to get more work done without interruption – leading to less stress, better focus and improved results at work. Perhaps it’s worth a try.
2. Or set specific times each day that you will use to check and respond to email.
You can block these times off on your calendar to ensure you aren’t firing off emails too quickly – reacting vs. responding. Feeling the need to respond immediately to emails can actually be a detriment to your career if you don’t take adequate time to think through your reply before pushing send.
For these types of folks (myself included) it’s important to remember that if someone wanted an immediate response, they’d probably contact you via phone or text message. Be sure you take time to read, digest, think, respond, reread, and adjust as necessary before you send any emails. Stress should not be the driving factor in your response time – it should be ensuring accurate and complete information so you don’t need to send any additional, unnecessary emails.
3. Consider the “Big Picture.” Constantly checking your email (always being connected) can actually be a detriment on your career and your life.
Not only does constantly checking your email mean that you are likely not giving adequate focus to different tasks/deliverables in your daily workday, it also means that you are likely missing out on quality time with family and friends. Instead of giving your full attention to your daughter’s dance recital, you are checking to see if a client has emailed you at 7pm. Instead of enjoying conversation and laughter with your friend after work, you are sneaking a look at your phone under the table. And for what?
Take it from me – someone who struggles with this very issue – it’s not worth it. Oftentimes any emails you get don’t need an immediate response and allowing them to distract you from quality moments in your life can lead to increased stress and lowered satisfaction. Of course, if you’ve got a deadline and are expecting an email, you probably do need to check your phone more often. But, let this be the exception – not the rule.
More on this topic can be found at the following links: