When you settle in to your day’s work, what’s the first thing you do? After coffee, chat and switching your brain on, of course?
Most will answer that we check our emails. Many will say we start answering our emails. Some will say we are addicted to emails.
Well, if you’re one of them, there is light at the end of the tunnel, hope at the end of despair, relief after the end of the stress.
Think in terms of what your real job is. Is it head of sales? Commercial director? Team Manager? Whatever the title is, I can almost guarantee it isn’t ‘Chief Answerer of Emails’.
So what can you do to stop the addiction to emails?
Firstly, you need to see if there is actually a need for change. Get a little notebook, and make a mark every time you see what’s come into your inbox. Inboxes are perfectly designed to be addictive. Each unopened email is like a little scratch-off box on a lotto ticket. There’s always the prospect of a big win.
And, of course, it never is. But it doesn’t stop you from looking. So, make a quick note every time you check that in-box. At the end of a normal day, count how many times it has happened.
The best thing to do would be to turn off the warning tone whenever an email hits. With some programs, a small window opens up in the corner of your screen with the sender, subject and first line of the email. You won’t be able to stop yourself checking that insidious little window, so turn it off.
Most people let their email control them. Turn it around and start controlling the email. Set a budget for yourself. If you currently check 30 times a day, cut it down to 20. If 15, cut it to 10
Then, set yourself “no email” times. Close your email program, and make certain hours into no-go times. If you’re addicted, this will be hard. Do it when your engrossed in other things, and it won’t be as hard as you might think. Give yourself a proverbial pat on the back when you succeed; you will learn to control the beast, rather than it control you.
Be aware of how much time it actually leeches from you. When you see this as a fact, you will be determined to get rid of the addiction, and make it work for you, not against you.
Head of Training
Originally published: 12 March, 2012