If you’re like me, you probably find yourself constantly looking at your phone to check your emails and messages every chance you get. During my trip to Mexico last week, I decided to conduct a little experiment by keeping my phone off the entire time to see what would happen.
Admittedly, I didn’t plan on keeping my phone off while in Mexico. In fact, I paid a few dollars to add an international data plan to my phone for the six days I would be there for the sole purpose of being able to stay on top of my messages.
At the airport in Cancun, while waiting for the hotel shuttle to arrive, I busted out my trusty Blackberry and started going through the handful of messages I missed while on the four hour flight. I looked around and saw most other people in our group were doing the same.
But then something hit me. Maybe it was a burst of that warm Mexican air. I looked up at the blue sky and the swaying palm trees. Then I looked down at my Blackberry. And then I thought to myself–what am I doing?
That was the last time I looked at my phone for the rest of the trip.
We had a great time in Mexico, and I was stress-free without the constant nag of my Blackberry.
Upon arriving back to the US, I turned on my phone for the first time in six days. And that was when the result of the experiment truly revealed itself:
Out of the hundreds of emails I received, only about ten were important enough to warrant further action.
That’s right. Ten. And even those messages were not extremely urgent. It turns out email isn’t that important after all.
As a result, I decided I needed to put an end to the email madness. So here are a few things I will be doing to get out of the habit of incessantly looking at my emails:
- Disable message notifications on my phone–I don’t need to know every time I get an email. Only keep vibrate notifications enabled for text messages and phone calls.
- Limit reading messages on my phone to only two times per day–once around mid day, and once in the evening.
- Turn off the red/green indicator light so I am not tempted to look at my phone every time I see a red light.
- Unsubscribe aggressively to newsletters, product updates, or any other automated emails that are clogging my inbox.
- Be conscious of situations where people use their phones as a way to avoid human contact, such as elevators. You’re in an elevator for all of 30 seconds–are you really going to get anything important done during that time? Say “hi” to someone instead.
- Stop reading or sending messages and emails while in the car, even in traffic or at stop lights. Any messages received while driving can wait until I get to my destination.
Being less connected to email means more productivity in your business life and less stress in your personal life. Less stress means better quality of life. It’s that simple.
I’ll let you know how things turn out. So far, it has been pretty liberating.
What are you doing to escape email overwhelm? If you haven’t already, I challenge you to conduct a similar experiment of your own.