Technology is both amazing and awful at the same time. And email must truly be the ‘king of awful’ as so many of us become crazed and addicted to it – sort of like crack addicts. We can’t stop looking at our phones, we open our email browser several times during the day to see what is going on and who might have ordered something, replied to our request or so forth. When we have any kind of extra time waiting in a queue, at the airport, taking a momentary pause or waiting for a meal to arrive – the email comes out quick and fast and it acts as a highly effective barrier to just being and feeling mindful with thyself.
Emails and mindfulness aren’t friends!
Signs that email is running your life and the addiction has taken over?
- You rely on email to dictate your daily workload and drive your ‘to do’ list
- You open your email browser more than 4 times per day
- Emails that you consider negative really disrupt your day or week
- You get anxious if you haven’t checked your email in a few hours
- You have an anxiety attack if you haven’t checked them in a whole day
- You experience a full nervous breakdown if you don’t access emails within 48 hours
- You start typing messages in the air cause your fingers start twitching when not on email – sort of like air guitar
- Don’t get me wrong, I love emails but the fact is many of us don’t have ‘em under control. Worse yet – they completely control us.
- Do you need to stop your bingeing on emails and take back control of your work calendar and your life?
Intelligent people realise that containing emails and managing them in batches (not addictively) allows them better business focus, better business productivity and outcomes, improved stress levels more mindful moments every day. Not to mention stacks of other great outcomes. We all want that right?
5 Steps to breaking the addiction
- Have email ‘windows’ in place – choose 3 times during the day that you open and respond to emails effectively and with intention. Use an app if you need; I hear some are available to block your email for set periods of time. If you need more than 3 times, choose 4 or 5.
- Don’t make email your first ‘go to’ task in the morning. Think about your day ahead and THEME it. Do any ‘big thinking’ tasks first ahead of those bitsy emails. Emails are lazy and better served for the afternoon.
- Plan some times during your working day where you have notepad, a pen and some dreamy thoughts to explore. Try getting outside or away from your desk and feel the freedom away from that email device. We think better when we aren’t sitting at a desk and laptop. It is a big psychological shift you need to commit to so you can break the addiction and start to really feel the improved energy you get when email doesn’t run your day.
- Make it a game; see if you can improve your opening email times every week. If last week you opened email 10 times per day, try beating the score and making it 9.
- Explore what you really want to achieve in your career or work and decide whether you need the additional 1 – 2 hours every day you waste on reading and rechecking emails. Also – have an agreed turnaround time in your head. Training other people that you don’t read emails every hour (on the hour) is critical to take the pressure off.
Enjoy finding your inner Zen in the email addicted world we live in.
by Debbie Pask