Email Hostage

I don’t know about you but I am under siege.

Email. email 2

It has become the bane of my existence.

I receive between 300-400 emails a day. I know right? Crazy!

Email has become the default communication for a lot of us. Hell, you are probably receiving this blog post in your email so in a sense I am part of the problem. Sorry about that!

Seriously, email has extended our work hours well beyond the 8-5 schedule and has, for some, me included, taken us prisoner and chained us to our devices 12-18 hours per day. Heck I know people who can’t go 5 minutes without checking their email. Email and it’s incessant nagging “check me” impulses is destroying our lives.

The other day I sat next to a woman who continually clicked on her phone and checked her email despite the very specific requests of the Southwest flight attendants to put her device into airplane mode. In 50 minute flight from Dallas to Austin I counted 20 times she checked email – it was crazy.

I finally had to ask what she did for a living, apparently she’s an attorney. I asked her if she had a client on death row or something. She smiled and said, “No, I am a corporate lawyer”. I followed up by asking her if she had a client going public that afternoon. “Hmm no.”

“Then I have to ask, why do you have to check your email so often. To the point that you disobey the rules of the plane?”

To which she said, “My boss doesn’t care if I crash the plane as long as I am always available. He expects responses to his emails morning, noon or night.” Here was clearly a smart, articulate, well-educated….slave! A slave to someone else’s priorities and agenda.

I thought to myself how pathetic. Then I realized I was just like her.

That’s when it hit me. Email owns us. I’m just as guilty as she is. I don’t break the rules to check email on a flight but the moment I hear the skid of the tires, I feel compelled to pop off of airplane mode and check my email to see what I missed or who’s looking for me (cause they are always looking for me). Heck, I bet, out of habit, I checked email 5 times before I got to my truck in the parking garage and another 5 times before I got home.


Well, I am apparently OCD but let’s save that for another post shall we.

No seriously, it because it’s the new norm. We all feel compelled to do it. Don’t laugh, you know what I’m talking about!

Here’s the thing: THE NEW NORM SUCKS!

Aside from running The Ripple Effect, I own two software companies. Email is the primary source of communication amongst our support team and customers. I can’t tell you how often a demanding customer will send an email and call me five minutes later to ASK if I have read their email. As if there is some unwritten rule that instantaneous communication, acknowledgement and response time is built into their service level agreement. I mean seriously, this happens maybe 10-20 times per week and it blows me away at how impatient people are when it comes to their email.

Here’s the deal folks, back in the old days, people picked up the phone and had conversations about things that were pressing. If you had an issue, you called someone and talked through it. You didn’t email, call and email again. It’s out of control and I for one have had enough.

mad-as-hellEmail is killing my productivity, email is sapping my creativity, and Email is requiring I pay more attention to it than I do to my own family. And it has to stop.

My good friend Maura Thomas has written a book about attention management and has warned against theses depths of hell I find myself in thanks to email. I think it’s time I truly embrace some of these strategies myself and stop being held hostage by that damn inbox. I am going to Regain My Time (sorry Maura, had to steal that line) and quit playing the game.

So I am implementing a few simple rules to see what impact I can make on my life:

  1. I am going to only check email a few “scheduled” times per day.
  2. I’m removing the “push” capability for email on my phone. I will adjust my settings to retrieve new messages only when I want them (a Maura Thomas tip!).
  3. I am going to quit checking email at night and on the weekends. If someone is that important and needs me that bad, I would suspect they would have my phone number and can call me.
  4.  I am going to change peoples expectations starting with my own. I am going to let people know that they can expect delays in my responses to emails because I’m focused on building my company and preserving and enjoying my family.
  5. I’m going to turn my phone off at 6PM  and will not check email before 6:45AM.

If you are like me and you’ve been held captivate by email no one is coming to rescue you. Not even Chuck Norris. It’s time you take control yourself and escape the shackles of email bondage (hmmm maybe I should write the book 50 Shades of Inbox).

I mean seriously, there’s no one THAT IMPORTANT on the planet that can’t wait right? Well except for Bruce Springsteen maybe…oh and my Dad. Crap…and my wife (love you honey). Damn…and my kids (neither of which use email with regularity so I think I’m solid there). Other than that, everyone else can wait.

Hope that corporate attorney is listening! Because seriously, I don’t want to be involved in an airplane crash because her boss is  an a-hole.

Ripple On!!!

ICYMI: #Ripplethoughtoftheday

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