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Don't Check Your Email!

by Clint Watson on 6/19/2007 7:42:53 AM

OK, I admit in engaging in a bit of hyperbole. I should rephrase, Don't check your email too much.

How much is too much? More than twice a day is probably too much. My suggestion is to check it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. For an artist, I would even venture to say that ONCE a day is enough. You should be in your studio creating art anyway.

In many ways, email is a time waster. We're all addicted to it. I think we like it because checking and answering email doesn't really require much brainpower, but it makes us feel like we're doing something productive. For the most part, this is an illusion. You'll find your much more productive if you unleash yourself from your inbox and get on with the business of real work.

Now I'll confess: this is easier said than done. Some days I find myself slipping back into old habits and trying to keep my inbox clear at all times. Most days, however, I am now down to three checks a day - roughly at 9:00am, 12:00pm, and 4:00pm -- I DO have an excuse though, I run an internet services company -- as an artist...you don't.

Here's a trick that works, especially if you use an email application like outlook or Thunderbird, after you check your email, simply CLOSE your email program. And then promise yourself that you will not OPEN it again until your next scheduled check.

Sincerely,

Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS: You'll learn if you don't check your email too much, a lot of "problems" resolve themselves. I often now have a series of three or four messages in my inbox from colleagues asking about some particluar matter followed up a few minutes later by a "oh, never mind I figured it out on my own" message -- those are four messages I didn't waste time responding to and the "problem" has already been resolved!


 

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Topics: Productivity

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Angela Jamison
via web
freedom! You mean to tell me that it is ok to check my email only twice a day? it is so funny how easily we become rats in a cage... by our own doing! of course it is ok to check your email 1-2 times a day. thanks for jolting me back into reality... off to the studio i go :)

Jeanne Guerin-Daley
via web
I like that suggestion of checking email only three times a day! I'm going to try it. I'm amazed at how my time can fly by, not only reading and writing email, but the tangents that get created from them. One email will remind me of something I need to do, something I need to research. So I google that subject and find myself at another site, which brings me to another site, which reminds me of another issue I should deal with so I go elsewhere. Before I know it there are ten tabs open on my browser, it's an hour later, and I still haven't done what I set out to do when I sat down!

I believe my problem is that, like many other folks, I have too many "to-do's". Going here and there, doing things as I think of them or as they come up in my email messages is probably not the best way to deal with them. A smarter way would be to stick to a schedule and prioritize them. This way, at least if I'm going to spend an hour on the computer, it's an hour doing an urgently-needed thing, rather than something that's number twenty-two on my list!

And I agree with your last point. I have often found that if I don't respond immediately, things work out so that I don't need to do so.


Patricia Lockwood
via web
Dear Clint Watson,

In the mornings, I am fresh and my head is overflowing with pictures I want to paint. The right brain is in full control. So, why waste all that creative energy on words when I'm thinking in pictures and what I really want to do is paint?

The words and the "you shoulds" don't start creeping into my head until the afternoon. By then my left brain is waking up, clamoring for attention and needs exercising. I start by warming it up with email and then the net and business. I do love my computer and Photoshop, so it does take discpline.

That solves that problem for me. Now, back to my basic problem - procrastination. I've been meaning to update my website for months!

Thanks for all the good info you send us.

Sincerely, Patricia Lockwood










 

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