5 Strategies to End Email Addiction

WORK & BUSINESS >

A few months ago, I re-watched the romantic classic, You’ve Got Mail.

I couldn’t help thinking about how sweet and dated it was! Little dial-up noises, and the joy that we used to feel when we’d hear the cheerful, ‘You’ve Got Mail,’ notification from AOL. Nowadays, most of us have far more email than we want or can handle.

It’s become the defacto form of communication for business and personal life, which also means that we receive anywhere from 50 to 500 emails daily. That’s why the skill to manage our email flow has become critical to our personal productivity. However, while I know that we’re not going to be eliminating this form of communication any time soon, we need to remember that email is NOT our friend. If left untamed, it’s definitely not constructive to our overall wellbeing.

A study conducted and presented in 2016 by Dr. Richard MacKinnon at the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference, found that by reducing the number of times we check our email, we can significantly reduce our stress levels. Additionally, most respondents reported checking their email early morning impacted their mood for the rest of the day and added more stress. That’s why changing this one facet of your workflow can have a dramatic impact on your whole life.

To help you improve your email stress, let’s dive into the top 5 tips to handle our email inbox better:

1 – PUT YOUR AGENDA FIRST!
The biggest problem with being addicted to our email inbox is that it’s a reactive rather than proactive mode of living. If we spend our work hours always replying to other people’s messages, then we’re not taking the time to work on the proactive and creative work that’s important to us.

Replying to everyone else’s questions and needs don’t move our priorities forward. Email is not one of our “Big Rocks,” as Stephen Covey would say. So, the best way to put email ‘in its place,’ is to know what our priorities are and work on them first.

Unfortunately, many people are so accustomed to running their day from their inbox that they don’t even know how to identify their priorities outside of it.

  • TO DO
    • Prioritize Your Tasks: As strange as it sounds, to get unstuck from your email inbox; you might need to stop and figure out what you would want to be working on instead.
      If you’re unclear about what work you want to be doing, then email becomes a great way to ‘feel productive’ while getting very little of substance done.
    • Choose Your “One Thing:” I teach my clients to choose their Inspired Action each day. Your Inspired Action is the one task that will move your priorities forward. It is a commitment to yourself. Come hell or high water; this one task will get done before you finish work or go to sleep that day.

  • BENEFITS
    • We get to complete our tasks which are most important to our overall success.
    • When email distracts us from our Inspired Action, then we’re giving away our power to direct our focus, time, and energy to other people’s agendas rather than our priorities. Danger Will Robinson! Not a good way to be effective.

So, know what’s most important to you, and put your agenda and priorities first.

Stop Living From Your Inbox 1

“When we guard the time we spend on checking emails every minute of every day, we can now instead spend more time on self-care and quality time with family, our kids, or loved ones.”

2 – AVOID EMAIL DURING YOUR FIRST 90 MINUTES OF WORK
Julie Morgenstern is famous for her book, Never Check Email in the Morning. Personally, I think she’s absolutely right for the reasons mentioned above. Your first block of work time is likely when your mind is freshest. Remember the study mentioned above about the impact of email on our stress level and mood and? Decide that it’s time to refrain from checking your email the moment you wake up or over coffee at the kitchen table.

  • TO DO
    • Avoid checking emails (or Slack and other messaging systems) first thing in the morning or until after your first 90 minutes of work.
  • BENEFITS
    • Enacting this simple change has two advantages:
      We give ourselves mental and emotional time to get important tasks done because we dedicate our freshest time of day to our agenda.
    • We feel less stressed and distracted during the morning because we aren’t spinning about what just landed in our inbox.

 

3 – AVOID EMAIL FOR 90 MINUTES BEFORE BED
Another important step is to refrain from checking our email within 90 minutes of going to bed. Generally, checking email gets our brains revved up and thinking about tasks, conversations, and work. That’s not where you want your brain heading just before you’re aiming for a restful night’s sleep.

  • TO DO
    • Close your email inbox at least an hour to 90 minutes before bedtime.

  • BENEFITS
    • We can spend more time on self-care and quality time with family, our kids, or loved ones.
    • We avoid having other people’s concerns and agendas ruin our night’s sleep.

 

4 – MOVE YOUR EMAIL APP ICON OFF THE MAIN SCREEN
I used to have a horrible habit of picking up my smartphone and clicking the email app immediately. This habit meant that, for a while, I was checking my email 30 plus times a day. I realized the habit was AWFUL! It had to stop. But, the impulse was strong.
So, I moved the email app to the last page on my phone. In other words, with one simple change, I made it a lot harder to open my email by reflexive habit.

  • TO DO
    • Move email (or other addictive apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Slack) off your phone’s main screen to break your knee-jerk habit.
    • Similarly, remove all the notifications and badges that show how many unread messages are waiting.

  • BENEFIT
    • This one change will allow you to break your reflexive email-checking habit and get back to handling email on your schedule, rather than every time you pick up your phone.
Stop Living From Your Inbox 2

5 – COMMIT TO CHECK EMAIL NO MORE THAN THREE TIMES A DAY
Reduce the window of opportunity. By removing the early morning and late evening hours, you’ll narrow your email checking opportunities down to become more manageable. But, there are still a lot of hours that you could randomly keep checking your inbox. Why not create a schedule or pattern for how this task fits into your day at specific points?

  • TO DO
    Think about choosing the times you check your email to be more in tune with your personal daily rhythm: before lunch, after lunch, at the end of the workday, and right after dinner – all are examples of good potential times.

For me, it’s usually late morning (around 11 am), early afternoon (around 2:30 pm), and just before signing off for the day (around 4:30 pm). Honestly, often it’s only twice a day at 11 am & 4:30 pm. Anything that comes in after that can usually wait for tomorrow.

HELPFUL TIP: It might help to find something else as a replacement habit. Each time you would have jumped into your email inbox, what could you do instead?
• Open your task list?
• Turn on a song and dance for 3 minutes?
• Open your eBook app and read for 5 minutes?

  • BENEFIT
    If you find something to fill the space that email used to take up, then it will get easier to break the cycle.

If you’ve recognized that some of these tricks might address your email addiction, then give them a whirl. As they say, the first step is acknowledging we have a problem. Breaking email addiction can be challenging for some people, but once you’ve tasted freedom from your inbox, you’ll never want to go back.

FDN LIFE article >

SHARE

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on tumblr
Share on skype
Share on stumbleupon
Share on xing
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

FDN LIFE ARTICLE >

SHARE

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on skype
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on email

FDN LIFE >

AUTHOR

FDN LIFE >

NEWSLETTER

Stay up to date with the latest news, events and trends in the world of FDNs

FDN LIFE article >

COMMENTS

1 thought on “Stop Living From Your Inbox”

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top