Today, e-mail has become a vital part of business, and I don’t know of anyone in the working world who doesn’t use the tool to some extent. Even the highest level old-school executives that hate dealing with computers have an assistant to handle their e-mail. But if you’re not careful, e-mail can become an obsession.
I’ve seen people checking their e-mail during important meetings, at church, and even at funerals, or in the toilet. Apparently, some folks just can’t escape the feeling that there’s a really important e-mail coming in that they should check on just in case.
But I believe as helpful as e-mail can be, it’s also wasting a significant amount of our time. And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. In her terrific book “Never Check Your E-mail in the Morning,” Judy Morgenstern teaches that it’s a mistake to sit down at your desk first thing in the morning and start with your e-mail. I know from experience that if you do, you’ll suddenly realize that it’s 11:30am and you’re still writing and responding. It sucks you into the message vortex and without realizing it, you’ve blown 2-3 hours of your day. Instead, Morgenstern teaches you should sit down at your desk and accomplish the most important thing you have to do that day. Then, once you done that, check your e-mail.
I’ve tried it, and it’s surprising how much more you’ll get done.
Companies across the country are hearing the siren call of e-mail distraction as well. Many organizations have instituted “E-mail Free Fridays” in an effort to re-focus employees on actual face to face (or at least phone to phone) conversation.
I recommend you take a hard look at your e-mail habits and see if you couldn’t make some positive changes. Make sure clients and associates realize that you don’t view e-mail as an immediate communication, and if it’s really important, encourage them to call.
It also wouldn’t hurt to take an e-mail fast here and there. Learn to turn off that voice that compels you to check your e-mail during client meetings, or during dinner with your spouse. Trust me, it can wait.
It’s all about perspective. When your clients, associates, and your family realize that you love and respect them more than you love your PDA, you’ll be amazed at the positive changes it will make in your life.