Why I Stopped Checking Email

OK, I didn’t really STOP checking email completely.

file9791249335384I did, however, turn off my email notifications this morning and intend to leave them off. It’s the smartest thing I’m likely to have done all day.

The second smartest thing I’m likely to have done is to log out of Facebook and vow not to log back in for 24 hours (for a brief ten-minute visit only).

These two steps were prompted in part by the realization that I am constantly distracted by those little pop-ups telling me I have new mail. Each time I see one, I am pulled out of my current task to hop over to Gmail and investigate—a loss of five or ten minutes of productivity each time.

On the heels of that realization, I noticed a relevant post from John Soares at the Productive Writers site, listing “3 Major Time Wasters.” The first is watching television—not applicable for me, as I watch very little.

The second is simply “The Internet.” I am guilty of surfing (who isn’t?) and constantly checking email and social media. John Soares suggests checking your email only two or three times a day. Makes sense to me—unless I’m waiting for an extremely time-sensitive response, the world won’t end if I don’t check emails again until lunchtime.

The last time waster is gossip. Whooboy. Isn’t this what Facebook is for? Checking the newest antics of celebrities, checking to see what everybody else is doing with their day—and, in some cases—agonizing over how much better somebody else’s life is and how much they’ve achieved? No, thanks. (Ever wonder how much productivity has declined in business offices since the advent of Facebook? A colleague once suggested that never before in history has it been so easy to goof off at work and escape notice—at least in offices with high cubicle walls and weak firewalls).

This is not to say I’m not guilty of time wasters like everybody else. But the first step in any plan to improve is to recognize what needs to happen.

Smartest thing I’ve done all day.

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