Like nearly every American, I’ve had an email device in my pocket for over ten years now, filled up with some ten email accounts and thousands of messages. And, except when doing something like climbing, eating, or sleeping I checked email about every fifteen minutes during waking hours. That is, until about a month ago, when I decided that was a habit I wanted to break, for all the obvious reasons that have been recounted endlessly.

So, I moved the email icon to the last page/ screen of my phone, and agreed to check it once a day, in the morning. It was not intended to be a terribly rigid goal: if I needed or wanted to communicate with someone via email, that was fine, and if someone called me up and told me to check my email, I would do so. The idea was just to break the compulsive behavior.

And Success: On two different days this past week I actually forgot to check email until sometime in the afternoon (forgetting is not ideal either, of course, but a great bit of progress along the way.)

Now clearly, there are certain types of jobs where frequent email use is a requirement, though many teams are moving towards context-based communications (like slack). Part of the problem with email is it’s a dumping ground for everything, from your dentist appointment reminders to your bills to notes from friends and family to actual work.

For those of us who work independently or for ourselves, it’s a much easier habit to break then I would have believed, and it’s nice to segregate communications by topic, and avoid the mental interruption of thinking, “ohh, I’ve got to check my email (again).”

Do I notice the gained hour or two a day? No. But I do think it’s helped calm my nerves.

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Posted by:brook delorme

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