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January 4, 2015

Addicted To Email? I Am…

The first step is to admit you have a problem…right?  Well here you go, I am addicted to email.  Ok maybe it’s not the worst thing to be addicted to and it’s funny to joke about but the problem is that it’s keeping me from being truly “present” wherever I am at that moment.   Since Stapleton is full of hard working, active people (often with kids) who like to be productive I bet I’m not the only one.

By constantly checking my email…in line at Starbucks (different addiction to discuss another time), when I wake up, when I go to bed, when I go to the bathroom, when I go for a walk with the dog, when I’m at the park with the kids, when I’m at lunch, when I’m watching tv, when I’m at dinner with my wife, when I’m jogging (get the picture!) I’m hijacking my brain and taking it out of the present moment. 

The worst part is that when I do that in those moments I’m opening up my huge to do list (which is what email is really) and I’m not in a position to do anything on that list. So why open up a huge to do list when you can’t check anything off that list…all you end up doing is getting frustrated.

For example, I woke up a few days ago and as I was cooking my daughter Emme breakfast before school I pulled up my email on my iphone and opened up an email from another real estate agent regarding a deal we are working on together.  The email was pretty negative in tone and it listed several items that my client needed to do to satisfy their buyer.  The tone frustrated me and it made me think about what needed to be done and how I needed to get it handled that day.  From that point on I couldn’t fully focus on my daughter, the breakfast or the drive to school with her (which could have been time I was talking with her about her day or singing Frozen…again).  Instead what I needed to do about this email kept looping through my head…and frustrating me every time until I tackled the issue later that morning.  What a waste of time to be thinking about something I can’t work on at the moment and missing out on time with Emme.  I bet you can relate.

So here are my new rules around email:

1- I’m not going to ditch the “smart” phone altogether, but I am only going to check email 2 times per day.  (The exception being when I have a real estate contract I’m negotiating for a client and time is of the essence). 

2- I will have someone in my business monitor email more frequently for me throughout the day, handle as many as possible that are just basic tasks, text me if anything is urgent and sort them for me to deal with during my two designated times.   (Tim Ferris “4 Hour Workweek” book has great section on this issue)

3- I will close email while working on specific projects on my computer.  Why have email open all the time to pop up and distract me?  (Remember Pavlov’s dog?)

Email is important to my clients and so my responsiveness won’t change, the goal is just to stop looking at it when I can’t do anything about it anyway!  This will free me to be present for family, friends, clients and everything else I may be missing when I’m staring at my phone!

Think you’re not addicted?  Give it up for half a day and let me know how that goes.  Good luck!

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