I’ve been thinking about email today as I just added my work account to Microsoft outlook on my PC and boy am I already regretting it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m proud to say that I do not check email on the weekends. This is fairly easy because the majority of my emails come from my work account. Unless I’m physically at work on the weekends or have reason to think that an important message is on its way, I don’t have a truly compelling reason to check it. This decision is also made easier since I do not have my work email client downloaded on my phone, which is more likely to be next to me at any given moment than actual regular computer access through my PC.
Work emails are a strictly Monday through Friday affair, until last night. I had added my personal email account to Outlook a few weeks ago in the hopes of checking that email with greater frequency. Going through the multiple prompts on Yahoo time and time again gets old pretty quickly, and I really like the streamlined look and ease of use of the Windows 10 Outlook email client. Since my work email client is pretty clunky and not as user-friendly, I decided to switch it over to Outlook.
All was pretty good for the first few hours, all 600+ emails safely ensconced (I clearly do not subscribe to the inbox zero club, you can read here why that’s a waste of time). And then as I was working on a manuscript last night, a pop up in the lower right corner of my monitor. ‘Question about Exam 1’ read the subject line from one of my students. I tried to ignore it for as long as I could, as again, I do not check work email on the weekends, whether it’s from students or colleagues.
My resolve lasted all of five minutes before I found myself going through the email. I managed not to answer it, and just moved it to my cue for an early Monday morning response. Still, it disrupted my concentration (as all research said it would), and it took me a bit longer than I would have liked to regain my focus and continue working on my manuscript.
After writing this post, my next step is to remove my work email from my Outlook account and go back to the old way of doing things, where I have to log on to the internet to actually read my messages. Even though I’ve written about what a great hack working a bit on the weekends can be to getting ahead in the office, email is one of those things that unless it’s an absolute must, you’re better off without it. Certainly doing deep work on a manuscript beats clearing out the 87th message this month from personalizationmall.com (if you’re reading this, please, please stop emailing me, I already removed myself from your mailing list twice!)
Email is not going to go away time soon, especially if you’re a knowledge worker but by corralling it to specific times, you stand a better chance of running it than letting it run you. Happy deleting!
PS: If you want to receive more tips for how to unplug from the stressors of the modern workplace, start by taking the short Balanced Living Quiz, which is specifically designed for the harried professional who wants to start getting more out of life!