I am addicted to email. I check it constantly. If I’m not at my computer I check it on my phone while I’m driving, coaching my sons soccer game, talking to my wife or kids, and even doing yard work. About the only time I don’t check it is when I’m in a meeting with someone or sleeping. Recently I read a great book called “The Power of Full Engagement.” It is written by two sports psychologists who teach executives how to perform at a higher level. They focus on helping people improve their performance by managing their energy. If you often feel tired during the day, or are exhausted at the end of the day, you are most likely doing a poor job of managing your energy.
One of their key concepts is that you should focus on tasks for a period of 90 minutes and then move onto something else. You should limit your multitasking, That means not checking emails every time you hear a beep. Checking email constantly will drain your energy, make you less productive, and more irritable. Their advice is to check email twice a day! What I noticed was that my email had taken control of my life. It even made me slightly anxious, always waiting for that next email. While it wasn’t easy to check email twice a day, after a few days I found myself feeling and thinking a little bit differently. I felt less controlled by email, and realized that I had gotten away from doing some of the things that I really enjoyed doing because I was always reacting to my emails. I also realized that rarely do I get an email that is urgent and needs immediate attention.
In the book the authors interview many top executives and find that the most productive don’t check email on a regular basis. The top executives have strict routines that they follow and many check email in the morning or the evening.
Are you ready to give up your email addiction? Here is a challenge. For one day try checking your email only once in the morning and once in the afternoon. You might be surprised by how much control email has on you. I can guarantee only one thing. You will survive.