Taking back My Attention
I have taken a big step last week; I have removed email access from my phone. Yes, I know, so scary! I run a small business and usually live and die by my email, but my goal is to give it a shot for 30 days.
Over the last few months, I have been working on being more present. I love my work, but at times we are so busy that we get into a space of just getting it done and not having enough time to do our best work. I decided I needed to get really honest about my work; do we have too much, or is it that I am not using my time efficiently? One of the biggest time wasters and high-jackers of my days seem to be my email account. I noticed that I am literally always in my inbox. In fact, many times I respond to email as fast as I return a text. Somewhere along the line, my brain decided to convince itself that if I am not available 24/7 to all of my clients, they will leave and find a social media person that is. Honestly, that is a ridiculous idea but as a freelancer, I have developed these types of belief patterns and the truth is, the clients who want you to be available 24/7 are not my tribe!
I noticed that I check email as soon as I wake up in the morning, before meetings, after meetings, in the middle of the meeting, after running, before yoga. You get the point! So I started to wonder how many minutes this little habit is taking per day. Let’s say I check my email 10 times per day at 6 minutes for each session, that’s about 60 minutes per day; 7 hours a week! By only checking email twice per day, I can get back almost 6 hours back.
Additionally, I realized that email is a source of anxiety for me. It keeps me unnecessarily connected at all hours of the night and day, so I never allow myself the downtime I need to recharge. It is also a pacifier of sorts; I noticed I check it when I’m bored, standing in line at the market, waiting for an appointment…you name it I’m checking my email if there is even a second of downtime. I often wonder how many opportunities are missed because I have my head in my phone instead of standing in line and letting some whitespace create in my mind. In the old days, instead of looking at our phones, we made small talk with others.
Lastly, I was inspired to do this by Carey from Lifehack Bootcamp, about a month ago I sent her an email about their Lifehack Tribe program and I got an auto-response saying that she only checks email once or twice a day and she would get back to me in 48 hours. My initial response was “WOW, they’ve really lost it.” Then I thought, “I’m so impressed, and the truth is I really don’t need an answer right away.” Stay tuned for the results of my little experiment, I’ll write an update midway.