Three weeks ago, I wrote about my latest efforts to prevent email from taking over my day. In order to reduce the amount of time I spent dealing with email every day, I was going to try:
- Checking email twice a day
- Setting a timer when I check my email
- Not using GMail as my homepage
- Turning off all unnecessary notifications
- Setting all group emails to digest mode
Has my brilliant plan worked? Have I tackled the sprawling time-suck monster that was my email inbox?
Checking email twice a day has proved to be mostly a success. I go through my email in the morning with the intention of responding to, filing or deleting everything. I do this again at the end of the day. This works beautifully when I’m busy.
Setting a timer seems to be unnecessary. I glance at the clock when I sit down to my computer and have a general idea of how long I want to spend dealing with my email in the morning. Instead of worrying about meeting a specific time requirement, however, I focus on getting email completely handled so that I can be totally focused on my next task when I’m done. This type of compartmentalizing works well for me.
I have managed to unsubscribe from most unnecessary emails and turn off the bulk of frivolous email notifications I was getting. I still have a few more that trickle in that I need to take care of sooner rather than later, as it has been very helpful to have fewer junk emails to sort through when I do log in each morning and afternoon.
The overall result has been progress.
However, I have noticed that I tend to check my email compulsively when I’m bored or unfocused. The problem with this habit is that it keeps me with one foot in the matrix, so to speak. I really want to find a better way to handle my restless energy. I spend so much of my life in front of a screen because of work and maintaining long distance friendships, I feel like it’s important that I give myself adequate time away.
I’ve been turning off my computer every night after I’m done with the last email check. Of course, I have an iPhone, so the ability to peek in on my email is always just a touchscreen away. I think I’m going to try to ween myself of this state of constant connection by plugging my iPhone in on my nightstand when I’m finished with work for the day.
But what will I do instead when I need that quick fix of distraction?
I know there was a time when I lived an entire life without the Internet or instant technology. Surely I can figure out how to amuse myself for a few hours at a time without “checking in”.
Photo by Britt Reints