So, question for ya… what if you had to live without checking email for 30 days? I mean… 100% zero email. Not online. Not on your phone. You couldn’t check email at all.
What would you do? Could you even do it with the way things are right now?
185 – That’s a pretty accurate estimate on how many emails I get every day. And the funny thing is that’s a pretty low number compared to the amount of emails other people I know personally get.
In fact, yesterday I was catching up on emails from the previous couple of days and I was in my gmail account for about 3 hours straight… half of my workday (I don’t usually work a full 8 hours. Sometimes less… sometimes much more if I’m working on something big). But being in email for me just feels unproductive, uncreative, and there are probably 139 other things I could think of that I’d rather do with my time… including running down main street naked with a siren strapped to my back (lol).
But, most of us treat email like a newborn baby treats milk. We think we gotta have it otherwise the world will come crashing down around us.
Killing Email – Email Productivity Tips
Before I talk about why I’m considering killing email I want to say that I don’t think email is evil. It’s kinda like TV. It’s a great technology, it does a lot of good, but it’s also like crack… addictive and can put you into a hypnotic like state if you let it…. and destroy your creativity and results.
Yesterday after I spent 3 hours camped inside my inbox “getting a bunch of stuff done” I felt a sense of accomplishment when my inbox got below “10”. But, the thing that I realized is that while my email was down… I didn’t push forward anything truly worthwhile in my life or business during those 3 hours. It was mainly maintenance and responding to other people trying to control my agenda. Plus, right after that high of getting to “inbox zero” was gone… I knew I’d have the same issue 3 days from now. A never-ending cycle… it feels kinda like a hamster wheel you know you will never get to the end of.
So, I now realize something has to be done. And I’m going to experiment w/ killing email (or at least part of it). Here’s why… and how.
7 Reasons To Kill Email
1) It’s highly unproductive – even though you feel like you’re being productive
2) It’s a drain and sucks the life outta me being on email longer than 30 mins a day
3) It’s a great way for other people to assert their own agenda on you
4) It creates a dependency on “instant feedback” for both you and other people
5) It’s a darn rabbit hole… never ends so your mind continually has it in the back as something that has to be done (creating a massive open loop)
6) Turns into a fire-hose of information that just keeps coming, distracting you from what’s really important in business and life.
7) People got along without email just fine for thousands of years… I’m sure we’ll get along just fine without it too.
When you really think about email for what it is, it’s about as important as having a Facebook account is. Yes, it’s cool and can make communicating with people easier… but that’s half of the probem… too many people can too easily communicate with you whether you want it or not.
How To Live Without Checking Email Yourself
Ok, so on my quest over the next 90 days to eliminate email by 95%… I’ve got some ideas on ways I’ll do that. But, when I say “kill email”… I’m not saying delete my email accounts and live the life of a technology hermit. I’m just saying that I’m going to cut the time that I spend on email by 95%.
1) Today I spent 20 minutes unsubscribing from every newsletter (except 2 that I really love and resonate with) and turned off all email notifications from stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Everything. This right here is 60% of my email. It’s now gone. Whew! It feels good already. I’ll keep doing this over the next month every time I get a newsletter in my inbox. It’s goneski forever.
2) I’ve set up in my gmail account automatic filters for emails that I still need but that don’t need to be in my inbox. Things like receipts, emails about certain topics that I can have automatically filtered to my assistant or someone else, my mastermind groups group chatter list, etc. I can just check out the folders once a month and the stuff that’s really important will stand out, the other stuff will seem much less important a month after it came in J
3) Over the next 60 days my assistant and I will be working on setting up systems and responses for common questions… systems for setting up phone appointments for important stuff w/ people (so I don’t get stuck in never ending email threads), and she’ll be taking over the day to day monitoring of my email.
4) I’m transitioning everything over to skype calls or quick chats, phone calls w/ appointments, and training people that they can’t get a hold of me quickly by email… so if it’s actually important they can give me a call.
Now, I know this kinda looks like I’m being a diva. Making people jump through hoops. But the thing is, over the past decade we’ve all given up our own personal freedom. We’ve let technology – which was invented to make our lives easier and happier – overtake us so we rely on them to fill time… rather than to truly make us more productive and happy in life. Would you agree?
So, should I kill email? My decision is yes. I probably won’t be able to 100% kill email. I’ll still check it a couple times a week… but I’ve made the decision that using email as a crutch to fill time and to fill my agenda has to stop. It’ll open up a ton of time, creativity, more personal interactions with the people who matter. Now, I pose you the question… will you kill email with me?
2 responses to “The Great Email Experiment – To Kill or Not To Kill?”
Trevor, I have been dealing with the exact issue these past few days… any tips are appreciated!
I agree. I’ve been battling email like you, and have followed similar advice.
I’ve also been working on software to solve the problem: http://emailreducer.davidsilvasmith.com If you have 5 minutes to check it out try it. If you have 7 minutes, take 2 and send me some feedback to make it better 🙂