I Stopped Letting Email Control My Life
In the game of life, email plays an important role today in helping us to stay connected, informed and aware of project updates, meeting invites, a child’s sport schedule and even who commented on your latest Facebook post. When you count it up, add 24 hours in a day and still have a job to do, email can quickly become overwhelming. I use to get 200–300 emails a day. You do your best to weed through and select the critical ones, but you likely leave the office every day like I did with more and more piling up — until your email inbox resembles that of a virtual Mt. Everest. Sound familiar? That’s where I was, and today, as I type this email, I have 8 emails in by Inbox. Here are the tricks I used to get there and how you too can stop letting email control your life and your mood.
- Want vs. Need. This was a hard question I began to ask in all areas of my life, do I “want” it, or “need” it. I was surprised at the results and began simplifying my emails into these two buckets. I would spend the first 10 minutes of my day for 5 days unsubscribing to any emails that were unnecessary. That I didn’t “need.” I didn’t need the latest sales at Banana Republic or the latest offers from Groupon. If I was interested in those, I knew where to find them on their websites. That was a huge time savor for me. After just one week, I saw so many less emails every morning when I came into the office and felt less behind before my first sip of coffee.
- An “Alter-Ego” email. I began using my email from before I was married whenever a signup required one, but where I knew it would result in a lot of potential spam. I also began to pay special attention when signing up to un-check the pre-checked box you often fly past in the registration process, to ensure I minimized new email traffic. Then, each Friday, I block 15 minutes in my calendar to review that email and ensure I didn’t miss anything crucial…and started unsubscribing there too.
- Sleeping with the Enemy. Unless you are a doctor or are someone in a profession where you are on-call, leave your phone out of the bedroom. This was a huge mental shift for me, but also the greatest sense of freedom from these addictive little devices. I found each morning I started my day with the phone, saw an overwhelming number of emails, the latest 4234 annoying political posts on Facebook and 16 new connection requests on LinkedIn. All of which could wait, but would start me off that morning feeling already overwhelmed and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet or kissed my husband & kids good morning. When I had the phone in the room, I would check it at 3am when i woke to use the restroom, would get amped up from the blue light or what was on the phone in an email or post, then never really fall back to sleep. Ditch the phone and buy an old-school alarm clock. It’s been life-changing.
These are just three tips that made a huge impact on my email volume, my sanity and my sense of accomplishment every day. Our brains like when we ‘win’ and I started winning at email. I would leave the office for the day feeling caught-up and accomplished, which was a big victory in my life.