Nobody Ever Changed the World by Checking Email

Srinivas Rao
Mar 23, 2016 · 3 min read

Nobody has ever said, “I changed the world by checking my email.” If you looked at the 20% of activities that create 80% of the value in your life, email, social media, and all the things that seem like work but are not, don’t even make the cut.

The average adult checks their email 45 times a day and the average college student checks their Facebook status 18 times an hour. — Brian Tracy

In a recent talk, Brian Tracy made a convincing case for why e-mail first thing in the morning is a bit like cocaine. By checking email, or how many “likes” your latest Facebook status update got, you get a hit of dopamine and because it’s addictive you want more. So you go from one email check to 45 checks by the end of the day having accomplished nothing.

His one insight to double your income was simple. Don’t check your email until 11am. Spend that time completing tasks. It turns out that the completion of tasks releases endorphins and gets you into flow, which is as addictive as the dopamine surge from checking your email, but instead of resulting in more email checks, it results in more flow.

You’ve probably had an afternoon or two when you’ve hammered out 3 days worth of work as a result of getting into flow.

  • It’s something that authors experience quite regularly when they’re writing.
  • Surfers experience it when riding waves, and snowboarders in fresh powder

I’ve had days when I hammer out up to 4000 words. The worst possible thing you can do when you hit flow is give into a digital distraction. It completely wastes one of your most powerful states. However if you resist distraction and pour that energy into creating more and consuming less, you’ll get to the end of the day and feel like a million bucks.

I’m as guilty of wanting to check my email as anybody. While writing this I had constant urges, but thanks to tools that block digital distractions for 3 hours at a time, I’m forced to sit here and write instead.

Unless you’re the president of the United States or somebody who people consistently need instant access to, you can probably get away with not having email on your phone. Deleting email from my phone was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my personal productivity. And on the rare occasions that I need it, I just reenable Safari.

2 Email Hacks That Save You a Ton of Time

1) Install Boomerang. This allows you to automate follow up and schedule emails in advance.

2) Write all your emails in another tool before you actually login to your inbox. That you can cut and paste them. And your email communication becomes reactive instead of proactive.

At the moment, I’m conducting a productivity experiment of sorts. I’m blocking all distracting websites until 11am and again until 5pm. So far, as a result, I’m reading more, making progress on a 30-day drawing project, and writing a lot more than I was before. I’m going well past my 1000 words a day which has been my benchmark for a long time.

If you reduce your distraction capacity, you’ll increase your production capacity.

I’m the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Every Sunday we share the most unmistakable parts of the internet that we have discovered in The Sunday Quiver. Receive our next issue by signing up here.

Srinivas Rao

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