Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all to varying degrees slaves under our email. Personally I can note this in two ways. First, if I’m waiting somewhere typically I pick up my iPhone and check my inbox. Secondly, the email inbox is typically one of the last things I check at night before going to bed.
The latter thing is particularly bad as there’s frequently an email that upsets or unnerves you that you should definitely not read when you are trying to relax before getting a good night’s sleep. Though, in a grand sense, we should all commit to checking email much less often.
I’ve always been an advocate of reducing the ways someone can demand my time, without me allowing it. I’m notoriously bad at answering my phone just because it decides to ring—preferring instead to return a call later when it suits me. It’s the same with email, only easier.
My Email Checking Routine
What I am doing is challenging myself to check email on a restricted schedule. Email is by definition not urgent. The times I have decided are: Once in the early morning (~6:30am), catching any late evening email; once after the first block of work (~9:30am), catching the morning email that most other send; once at lunch; once mid-afternoon; once before I leave the office and finally once in the mid-evening.
I chose several more times than is necessary for most, I do this because there are many others in my field who might consider email a little more urgent than I now do. I might however not reply to email in this “in-between” checks, but just check and make sure there’s nothing in there that I need to know.
And? Is it working?
The million dollar question. To a point. Some days it is harder than others (particularly when you want to procrastinate), while some days it is easier. Overall, it is a good thing to become less of a slave to email and taking better control over your day in that way.