Sounds like the dream state. In a way it is. When you dream minutes feel like hours. That’s what taking a month off from email is like. Not to be completely disconnected but just enough to figure out that the majority of emails are really consequential. We spend hours a day checking emails. Those hours compound into days and those days to months and years over time. By filtering and not checking emails constantly we liberate ourselves from the humdrum noise that surrounds us everyday. This allows for more focused thinking on what is really important. Not everyone can do cold turkey well but we can all cut back a little at a time.
One approach to cutting back on background noise is to simply turn it off like I did. I really had to do a lot of extra work just to check email. I said to myself if it is going to require so much extra work then I am just not going to go through the trouble of checking it at all. It worked for me. Another small detail is that for months prior I had already conditioned my email contacts to understand that even when I am checking my email I only do it officially 2 times a day. I sat down a few months ago and set up an out of office reminder for the remainder of my time left in the military that I would only be checking email at 10 am and 4 pm everyday. All other times would be at my leisure. For those people who really have the need to contact me they have my cell phone and can contact me directly. This has set the stage for me to disconnect without the guilt of thinking people are waiting patiently for me to reply. It takes a lot of burden off of everyone’s shoulders.
If cold turkey is not your thing you could start with filter so that you only see emails from known senders. Of course you will still have some emails that are not important show up in your inbox but the majority of junk mail will end up in its proper place. The junk mail folder. Setting up the out of office reminder is a prerequisite to getting things to work properly. Once this out of office is set you have now established parameters for yourself as well as everyone else. Total freedom only works when you set boundaries. Without boundaries we become lethargic in our ways. Set boundaries and set limits to keep your day more productive and to keep your sanity. (This didn’t just apply to email, it applies to many other aspects of life)
Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. If anything sit down and write out a small post it of the one most important thing you need to do and then focus on that one thing. Taken from a blog I recently read, try the 1-3-5 method. The one single most important thing on top. Below that 3 other things that might be important to accomplish once you knock out the one big thing or in tandem once the one big thing is started. Then 5 other things you can do if all of the above are completed. The blog written by Nicolas Burka talks about this process and his app the One Big Thing he created specifically for this purpose.
Again the main thing I want to stress is not to stress. Don’t let email run your life, business, or otherwise. If you are getting that much email and it really is detrimental to your business then find a systematic way to process it all and then hand that system off to someone else (virtual assistant) to process for you. You don’t have to be in complete control of email. You can offline most of it. This approach may not work for everyone but I think the fundamental idea is a great idea for anyone wanting to win back some hours out of their day. We are all tied to digital leaches that ding and whistle at us. The easiest way to escape or at least minimize their existence is the turn them off… Sometimes literally.
Want to take it one step further? Pick a Saturday or Sunday and block off a few hours or even the whole day to turn off your devices. All of them. When you wake up the next day you will come to find with a 99% accuracy rate that no one has died and your job still exsists.
Any ideas for other ways you can win back your time and redirect it to more productive things in your life? Comment below. As always thanks for reading!