The Tyranny Of Email:
There’s no doubt email is a necessity in the modern world. Planning events, coordinating family gatherings, sending a quick note to a loved one who lives far away – the advantages are endless. However, we often forget that no one is tying our productivity to the number of seconds it took us to respond to an “urgent” email.
Studies suggest that an average worker spends 45% of his time in meetings, 23% emailing and 18% of it in unproductive work. Only 14% of the time, at any given point of the day, real work is happening.
Remember It Was Never Our Agenda:
Being tethered to the internet is Big Tech’s agenda for you. The model is “Always-on”.
The expectation is that teens who don’t have access to Discord or Snapchat might lose precious opportunities to socialize and network. An employee who chooses to limit corporate email and messenger use after hours, might risk losing career advancement opportunities.
So, tread carefully. It helps to remember that email is always someone else’s agenda for you. It is someone requesting or demaninding your attention for something they have to get done.
A Neuroscientist’s Take On Task Switching:
“Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you’re attempting to multitask, you know, doing four or five things at once, you’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.
So switch, switch, switch, you’re using glucose, glucose, glucose.
A decade ago, we shifted our attention at work every three minutes. Now we do it every 45 seconds, and we do it all day long. The average person checks email 74 times a day, and switches tasks on their computer 566 times a day.
So we find that when people are stressed, they tend to shift their attention more rapidly. We also found, strangely enough, that the shorter the amount of sleep that a person gets, the more likely they are to check Facebook. So we’re in this vicious, habitual cycle.”
~ Neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin
We’ve Been Click Baited:
Stop searching for random things on the internet. Ask those around you if you don’t know the meaning of something or want to find out more about someone. Every new search leads you to a new rabbit hole you are stuck for few hours. We say to ourselves, “I’m just going to check my email” or look at “that one text” and then we find that we’ve spent three hours perusing Facebook.
Its ok if you don’t know what’s trending and who wore what on the red carpet. Cut your losses and move on.
Is It Really Us Vs. Our Inboxes?
For a few years now, our inboxes, while sporting numbers like 1 or 19,556 hovering over them, have become the target of our frustration. And we started calling ourselves inbox heroes, inbox zeros and inbox infinity!
What we forget while labeling ourselves based on our strengths to tame our unruly inboxes is that at the core of it, email is a time thief. Just like tweets or texts, our emails rob of us of our ability to stick to our daily and long-term priorities.
It’s no wonder 41% of tasks on to do lists never get done. And they are usually the most difficult or the most mundane ones. If you don’t know your MIT – Most Important Task of the day, you’re losing out on your future self who will achieve the vision you’ve set for yourself NOW. And checking email cannot qualify as an MIT. Period.
For emails, batch them up and create windows of fixed intervals throughout the day to check. Set expectations with friends and coworkers about what to expect. And finally, they are notifications for us, not our masters. So, its ok, they are allowed to pile up like dirty laundry so that we can get to them when we can.