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Don’t Let Email Own Your Hours

Email has been around for 40 years, and neither Slack nor Trello nor Evernote has come close to denting its critical role in business communications.

I chat with our editors via email.

I chat with our clients via email.

I even chat with my teammates via email.

Email enables work, but it also disables work. How many times a day do you check your email? Scratch that, how many times an hour? You have no idea right? Don’t worry, neither do I. And as careful as I am about overdosing on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, I have never felt the need to monitor my email-checking.

Because email equals productivity, right?
Nope.

I’d estimate that 70% of the time, when I’m doing an email-check, there’s nothing urgent, nothing time-sensitive. And 25% of the time there aren’t even any new messages.

But that other 5%.
Oh, that other 5% is what keeps me coming back, time and time again.

That other 5% are those red-flag, red-alert, emergency correspondences that test the limits of what it means to be an account and project manager (Hooyah!).

These emails get the blood pumping. Sounds familiar? It should. That’s how casinos work.
(I’m not really sure if that’s how casinos work, but it sounds about right.)

But 95% of those email checks keep real work from getting done. We become so consumed with the possibility of an emergency that we forget to engage ourselves with the more mundane aspects of our jobs. You know, the normal day-to-day activities, the regular stuff.

Since realizing the above I’ve been more aware of how often I check my email, and now I do my best to check just once an hour. The change has been remarkable.

No, I’m not in better shape.
No, my cholesterol isn’t lower.

But I’ve got more time to focus on work, which is the point of email in the first place.

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