Emails have become an integral part of both our work and personal life. We respond to emails no matter where we are or what we are doing; shopping, going out, shepherding, taking care of our kids, watching TV, working out at the gym, etc. The emails are just there, jumping all over us, waking up our sleepy smartphones, turning on the screen (or any other visual indication), playing those well-known sounds, and we simply cannot restrain ourselves from taking a peek.
A small peek, and then a short reply, nothing serious, then another one, and another one…
It's an addiction.
And most of us are addicted: 70% of employees with smartphones regularly check their emails outside of normal business hours. 43% of employees use their smartphone emails to ease their workload for the following business day.
The problem is that emails have slowly changed from memos into one giant, endless, time-wasting chat which is done with just about everyone including customers, colleagues, bosses.
Here are 5 reasons why you shouldn't read your emails when you are not working:
1. Because you deserve a real break
Sure, it's just email, it's not real work. It's short, you just finish that sentence and then you are free again. Until the next email, that is…
Emails are one of our biggest distracters during the working hours. They encourage chatty discussions over short, efficient, focused decisions. They distract our minds, they make us switch our context frequently.
THEY ARE OUR PRODUCTIVITY ENEMIES!!! (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit…)
The same goes with our personal life. Breaks are important. Spending time with the family, quality time with the kids, hanging out with our friends, neighbors, greengrocer, whatever – those things are important and should not be distracted by an email.
The problem gets even worse when receiving an annoying email that might piss you off exactly when you are trying to have some fun. It takes a second to become upset about an incoming email. It will take minutes (or even hours) before you forget about it.
2. Because of the people surrounding you
They deserve better than seeing you fading away to your smartphone, trying to understand the meaning of the email you just received. It's never fun to be with a person who gets distracted every few minutes. You hate it when people are doing it to you, they hate it too…
It's bad for relationships. It's a bad example of restlessness to your kids. It's bad.
3. Because it's not as efficient as it seems
Reading long email is hard when it's done from a smartphone. Typing is slow (and might have embarrassing typos, especially if you do it while working out at the gym – the fingers tend to be shaky when working out…). Many attachments or links cannot be viewed properly. It can sometimes take the sting out of the bite; you know you have to do something, you know you just can't do it now, but it keeps bugging you.
Reading emails without being able to properly respond from your mobile is annoying, and many times those emails get lost in your growing inbox as you might accidently think you already handled them. After all, they are in "read" status, right?
4. Because of your boss
Being able to respond to incoming emails during your non-working time turns you into a working beast. Every time they need you – you are there - for the rescue! Regardless to the timezone, day of week, holidays. You might even get some positive credit for being so responsive (at first at least).
You are there, ready to add your two cents, ready to respond to a customer asking about something, ready to solve that technical problem. It's great. But it also creates expectations.
Ah… Expectations. What a great word. But a problematic one as well.
If the business you are into is global, and you are answering emails all day long, then the expectations are that you keep on doing so. Before you know it, people will start scheduling meetings during your evening, days off, etc. calling you 24/7. After all – they need you.
Oh, and if for some reason you didn't reply – they might get disappointed.
Your boss BTW, will too. After all - he is, just like you, answering his email when he is not supposed to, and as your boss, half of his emails end up becoming YOUR action items…
5. Because of your career
99% of the emails are tactical/operational ones: issues, red flags, questions, ongoing threads.
Dealing with emails during your free time means your brain keeps dealing with those short term issues instead of getting some rest. Most innovations come when you least expect them to, when your brain is free to think outside the box, not when you are thinking how to respond to a question asked by one of your colleagues or customers.
To innovate, and come up with fresh ideas, you need to free up some cells and clean your head from repeating distractions.
Need help getting over it?
The Mobile Spoon is here for you. Stay tuned for our second part of this one, where we will try to address some useful tips to get over the emails addiction.