A post over at MacSparky aptly titled E-Mail Monkey prompted me to reconsider my email habits. It’s certainly not the first post I’ve read about this topic, but maybe now is just the right time to finally deal with this issue.
I’ve been an email junky for several years now, with my email client running at all times, set to retrieve email every 15 minutes. As if the world didn’t already provide for enough interruptions as it is.
I can’t really remember when exactly I starting dealing with email this way, but my guess is that this habit was for the most part formed during the time I worked in a corporate environment, where having your email client running at all times is more or less the norm (this may also have to do with the fact that the applications used for email in these environments, such as MS Outlook and Lotus Notes, usually also serve as a calendar, address book and, for some, task managers).
I’ve tried to stop constantly checking email for some time now, so far without success. The problem is that I’ve been doing things this way for so long now, it’s become a habit. And as far as I’m concerned, the only way to get rid of a habit is by replacing it with a new one.
It’s been written that it takes about 30 days to form a new habit. I haven’t actively tried to form a new habit ever before, so I can’t confirm or deny this theory (I quit smoking several years ago, but IMHO that effectively takes more than 30 days to really stick).
In any case, I’ll soon find out whether this theory is correct or not, as I’m starting my own “30-day trial” to change my email habits.
Starting today, for the next 30 days I will only open my email client three times a day: once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I will read and sort through whatever emails arrive, respond to those that need a response and then close my email client again.
Sounds kind of crazy when you write it down that way. Nevertheless, sometimes the crazy stuff actually works best.
I’ll post occasional updates to my progress on this 30-day trial here. Hopefully, in 30 days, I’ll have formed healthier email habits and regained some productivity (and sanity).
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