Image from Unsplash.
Lily Herman
Mar 14, 2016 · 4 min read

Last Wednesday, I had wisdom teeth surgery. I warned all the various people I work with that I’d be offline for 72 hours. I did a bunch of work in advance so I wouldn’t be bothered while I was being operated on and getting loopy from meds and craving burgers while on an all-liquids diet and sleeping. I even turned on a very nifty auto-responder letting everyone that I’d be away.

And yet, I still checked my email one or two times every day while I was supposed to be offline. I found myself afraid that I was missing some emergency or that something big would come up and I wouldn’t be there to seize the opportunity.

Two things happened during those 72 hours:

  • There was no gigantic work emergency. People did what they were supposed to do, and a couple of smaller issues were expertly dealt with by the lovely and competent people I work with.
  • A nice time-sensitive opportunity did come up, and I couldn’t take it. And now, several days after it passed me by, I’m glad I didn’t take it, even if I could’ve. It just wasn’t a solid fit, and my constant online-ness would’ve gotten the best of any good decision-making.

Suddenly, the weekend came around and I was officially back online, but I was still bothered: Why had I allowed my inbox to control me even when I had the very legitimate excuse of recovering from dental surgery?

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

I’m known as an inbox zero kind of gal. My Gmail is open most of the time during the workweek, and I do check it on occasion on the weekends. I’m really damn productive because of it. But I’m figuring out that that’s not necessarily a good or healthy thing.

It really has to stop, because no computer application should have this level of control over me and my FOMO.

So, today I’m starting a new chapter in my email usage, one where I stop spending so much time worrying about what I’m missing in my inbox. Here it is, my email manifesto. If you’re interested in joining in, that’d be great, because I always love to have fellow travelers.

Image from Unsplash.

The Email Manifesto

  1. Thou shalt go offline by 9pm at the latest. Sign off. Of all the accounts. Go sleep. Read. Watch The Internship on FX even though you hate yourself for watching Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play the same characters in every movie. Anything. (Note: I’m a freelancer, and some of my most productive hours are at night, hence the later time offline than many people. I usually take an afternoon break when others are working, so it’s time displacement or whatever you want to call it.)
  2. Thou shalt stop apologizing for “just getting to [your] email” even though it’s only been an hour since you received said email. People can wait. Stop with the sorry. It’s just email.
  3. Thou shalt remind everyone that you are not an auto-responder, and a response should be expected typically within 24–48 hours. Again, people can wait. If they really can’t, they’ll let you know.
  4. Thou shalt do something else first thing in the morning besides check email. I personally believe it’s okay not to wait until you get to the office before opening your inbox, but something IRL has to come first.
  5. Thou shalt not substitute other platforms for email. Co-workers should not be Facebook messaging or texting you on the reg because they can’t get to you on email. No. Just NO.
Image from Unsplash.

All righty, the manifesto is written and out there for all of Team Internet to see. Time to honor it.

I’ll check in sometime in the next week or so to let you know how it’s going. #Accountability, ya feel?


I’m a writer, editor, social media manager, and entrepreneur. In recent months, I’ve been published on TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Mashable. Check out my personal website here and follow me on a Twitter here.

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Lily Herman

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I write and tweet a lot.

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