Category Archives: career

Damn the Email

Hi, My name is Jason, and I’m an email addict.

I work in an email driven culture. Though we have instant messaging, phone, and pager (yes pagers!) from a technology perspective, it seems most of our communication is through email. I receive anywhere between 100 and 300 emails a day. Not all of those are actionable or even interesting to me, but they still take time when they hit my inbox.

To try and curb my obsession with zero inbox, which is part of what led me to constantly monitor my email, I’ve challenged myself to keep my email reading down to under two hours of my work day. I now plan email “breaks” – 4, 1/2 hour, times during the day when I can check and respond to email. Otherwise I completely close my email apps and turn off auto notifications. Once those 4 blocks are done, my email-checking allowance for the day is done.

Besides reclaiming productive time, a side affect I am realizing from this is that I have been teaching the folks around me what to expect in terms of communication. In the past when I would answer email as soon as it came into my inbox, that became the expectation. When I didn’t answer instantly I would get an IM, phone call and then page within minutes of the email arriving in my inbox. Now folks are more patient in waiting for an answer, or will page or GASP! stop by my office if somethign is urgent.

As this becomes my standard work, I can tell the days when I let email get the best of me. At the end of those days I feel tense, have a headache and have a hard time focusing. But I feel that with continued effort I can bust the email addiction. Maybe someday eventually get down to under an hour a day? A person can dream!