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What I learned by taking a month-long break from email

Email as an all-in-one utility

There are so many things funneling back to email.

Without email, it can be difficult to check a doctor's appointment, RSVP to party invites, or access your bill history. Email can be a nightmare if you're trying to create boundaries.

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What I learned by taking a month-long break from email

What I learned by taking a month-long break from email

https://www.fastcompany.com/90296936/lessons-from-not-checking-my-email-messages-for-a-month

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

The email hibernation experiment

The email experiment works as follows:

  • No logging in to any primary email accounts for the entire month.
  • Setting up automatic forwarding to an assistant to ensure nothing urgent falls through the cracks.
  • Setting up an auto-reply explaining the reason for the email sabbatical, the period, and ways to connect during this time.

Email is addictive

According to a 2018 survey, the average creative professional spends 5.6 hours per day checking email.

Once you make up your mind to make the mail app less accessible, it is much easier to give up email. Leave the phone outside the bedroom to help build resilience to the email habit.

Most emails aren't important

Most emails are of little value. We often remember the extraordinary, like the once-in-a-lifetime invitation, but not the ordinary - that possibly only three percent of emails are worth reading.

People's reaction

We often impose an unhealthy expectation on ourselves to respond to every email immediately.
Except for work assignments, this is unnecessary. Many people will applaud you for taking a break and find your decision inspiring.

Email makes us more passive

We expect information to come to us, rather than proactively seeking it out

Our news email means we don't have to search it out. Our event invites mean we don't have to look into what's happening. While it is convenient, we are conditioned to become lazier.

Email as an all-in-one utility

There are so many things funneling back to email.

Without email, it can be difficult to check a doctor's appointment, RSVP to party invites, or access your bill history. Email can be a nightmare if you're trying to create boundaries.

A periodic sabbatical

Spending a month away from email can help you question your default distractions.
Without email, you have to find other stuff to do while riding on the subway or waiting in line. Then you may realize that self-importance and the sense of urgency are not important.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Tips For Efficient Email Management
  • Unsubscribe from or filter away the stuff you never read.
  • Disable email push notifications on your phone.
  • Check emails twice ...
Quote the sender's email in chunks
  • Only use enough quotations to establish the context.
  • Your reply should come below it.
  • When possible, cut and reformat the quoted text.
  • Get tasks out of your email and into a task manager.
Determine What The Sender Needs From You Asap

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the meaning and the value of the message?
  • What action does this message require of me?

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Practicing financial avoidance

Whether it is about your money or a person you are not fond of, avoidance is the key to a life without unpleasant events. 

Every now and then individuals feel the need to avoid checking ...

Keep track of your spending patterns

According to experts in the field, when dealing with anxiety related to checking your bank account, the best solution to manage your anxiety is by checking your bank account. 

While it might hurt you, this remains the only means to help yourself get in control and start managing your money.

Make a new habit

While planning on how to better keep track of your bank account, you might want to consider methods like starting to check your account once a month. 

In order to do that, it could be useful to schedule a meeting in your calendar, devoted solely to this. Other ideas might include using spreadsheets to keep track of expenses or getting an automatic tracker.

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Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for...

Empty your inbox daily
  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.
Stop CC’ing everyone

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

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Denying you have a problem

Stop saying that you don't have enough time to complete your commitments.

Admit that you need to get better at managing your time and start searching and trying techniques that will help you ...

Not planning your day

It's important to have an idea of what your daily priorities are and tasks you need to complete, preferably the night before. 

Also, make sure you prepare in the evening the outfit you're going to wear and the meals for the following day. Doing this will save time in the morning, and reduce decision fatigue.

"Urgent" vs "Important"

Take all of your tasks and place them into four quadrants:

  • To do first: the most important responsibilities that need to be done today or tomorrow.
  • Schedule: important tasks that are not urgent.
  • Delegate: essential items that are not important.
  • Don't do: tasks that aren't important or urgent. 

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4 Methods For Email Management On A Phone
  1. When you are walking or driving, use apps like Talkler to read your email to you and be able to reply with voice messages or delete emails.
  2. Trying to read email whil...
Email and productivity
Email is an extremely useful communication tool.  But when used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity.

More than one-quarter of a worker's day on average is spent answ...

Set aside time

... to read and respond to email. Don’t leave your email program open all day long. Alerts from incoming messages can interrupt your work flow. Instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. 

You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.” If necessary, turn off your cellphone and shut your office door to prevent interruptions.

Take action immediately
  • browse the inbox for emails that can be immediately deleted (spam or promotional emails). Then select messages that don’t require a response and delete or archive them. 
  • Don’t let important emails sit in your inbox for days. Unless you’re on vacation, respond within 48 hours. Reply to the sender as soon as you’ve read his or her message.
  • If you’re unable to respond immediately, communicate to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly. Set a deadline and follow up.

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Default behaviors

They are actions we make without thinking (habits, routines, compulsions). They control more than 40% of our daily actions.

So if we want to change our lives and be more productive, we...

Inbox always open

This behavior keeps you from dedicating your time to meaningful work. Replying to email may feel productive, but the truth is emails are rarely the most important thing on your to-do list.

So instead of keeping your inbox open all day, change your default behavior to working on emails in batches.

Immediately responding to messages

Real-time communication sets the expectation that you’re always available. And for many of us, our default behaviors support just that.

In order to change this behavior, you need to set expectations on response time. Mute specific channels, get rid of pop-ups, turn off mobile notifications, etc.

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Think About It

Acting without first reflecting can make things worse. Regularly reviewing how you spend your time will give you insight into how you got to your present state, how to move forward strategically...

Manage Your Inbox

Knowing your inbox isn’t overflowing can save you a lot of mental stress, which helps you focus on more important tasks. You can reduce your message by:

  • Unsubscribe from promotional and notification emails.
  • Use filters to sort nonessential email into specified sections of your inbox, so they don’t show up every time you log in.
  • Use programs to schedule emails and send reminders, so you can deal with emails on your own time. 
Have a “Mental Junk Drawer”

Dump your ideas, notes, lists, and saved articles that don’t have another home into a digital document. This clears some mental space—without adding papers and notebooks to your actual junk drawer.

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