We all have it to some degree, and now, psychologists are actually trying to quantify it as a broadly addressed behavioral problem. I’m not sure I’d agree with that, but I do think it’s more serious that most people realize, especially when it keeps you from accomplishing significant things with your life. To that end, here’s some principles to think about the next time you sit down at the computer or check your mobile device:
1. If you’re spending your day responding to email, then you’re spending the day responding to other people’s priorities, not yours.
2. We often default to answering email because it’s a false sense of accomplishment. It’s tough to start that new project, launch the new book, begin a new film, or whatever. But moving a few emails out of the inbox makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something. The problem is, we haven’t, and the really important projects are still sitting there.
3. I have an unemployed friend who lives under the illusion that constantly checking his email will get him a job. After all, he feels like he’s doing something. But while he’s responding to email, he’s not going to job interviews, meeting people, developing face to face relationships, increasing his skills, reading important books, growing in his profession, or other real, tangible things that will help him in his career.
4. Email can wait. If it was critical they would call or text. You can train your co-workers, clients, and friends to call if it’s time sensitive. I know people who will interrupt literally anything to respond to an email. Let it sit. It will be fine.
5. Your family and friends are weary of your addiction. Stop coming home from work and immediately checking your email. Stop staying up at night with it. Stop checking it at church, at dinner, or with friends. Start practicing focus – what actors call being “in the moment.” You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your relationships and outlook on life.
The most important commodity of the 21st century will be undivided attention.
6. Finally – which is more important? Having an empty email inbox, or accomplishing your dream project?
Email is a great tool, but app developers have made it so easy and convenient to check that we’ve allowed it access to the most intimate and private moments of our lives. It won’t go away anytime soon, so we’ll have to be serious and intentional about making changes. Start today. Breaking any addiction is worth the effort, and life on the other side is amazing…
Tell us – do you need to come clean?