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My One Week Email Diet

I’ve heard organization and productivity experts recommend checking your email twice a day (like at 10 am and again at 4pm). When I first heard that, I thought to myself, “Impossible! I have to be accessible. It’s my job! Do you know how many fires I put out in the course of an hour?!”

So what happened when I took a seven day break from my wired life?

Nothing.

The sky did not fall. It’s true. In fact, no disasters whatsoever occurred — at least, none that I could somehow link to my lack of email responsiveness. I know, it’s a shocker! I even went through the “Type-A” exercise of making sure to set up an autoresponder to let everyone know I would be gone. Of course, I forgot to actually turn it ON so they didn’t go out after all. And guess what? No one cared. Not that much.

I easily fell into the trap of thinking I had to do x,y,z in order to be productive or effective — especially in social media. For example, checking email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, etc. but Brené Brown makes a great point. She says, “Social Media is like gas. It expands to fill the space we give it.”

What I discovered upon my return from my unintentional unplugging was that any pressing messages were answered… by other people! “Fires” that I probably would have jumped on right away resolved themselves before my very eyes in email strings that didn’t include me. I had to chuckle at myself because once again, I was reminded at how many things I do that are symptoms of that insidious disease: busyness.

How many times do I check email, Twitter DM’s, or my Facebook newsfeed… just for the feeling of being busy and are essentially excuses to not attend to real tasks (like an important phone call or the Q3 budget) that are just not as fun?

I wonder how many cumulative hours I waste sifting through my inbox, which by the way is now at 5690 messages. Hey, at least they’re not *unread.* Mostly. So many of the emails I get are notifications from… (insert social platform here). Some are pure junk. Others are just not that important. And, like I said, the ones that are pressing seemed to instigate a flurry of responses that resolved the issues fairly quickly.

Nothing like a one-week (email) diet to put things into perspective. The Twice-A-Day Plan is sounding reasonable after all. Yes, I just checked. No fires today yet. I’ll be back at 4!

photo credit: stock xchng

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