Rethinking Email

Almost 2 years ago, I blogged about how email is broken and that we’re all using it incorrectly. Mostly, I was referring to the sending of unnecessarily large files over email, not so much about the day to day use of email.

Every day this week, thus far, my email client has remained closed between 9am and 12pm. Closed. Every day.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about email, how we use it and what it’s true purpose should be. At times, I’ve felt like my inbox controls me, rather than me controlling my inbox. Hence the periodic closure. Before you throw your hands up in disgust (“OMG! How dare you close your email?!”), let me jump into my email routine, as it stands today.

When I wake up, I freshen up and then check my email, on my phone. I do this for a reason, as I know I am less likely to reply to an email if I’m reading it on my phone (unless it’s urgent, of course). This gives me a chance to delete any emails that are either spam or just a notification that something has happened (for example, I receive a notification for every action that happens on the WooThemes Github account).

I then close the email application on my phone and head to WooThemes HQ. I don’t check my email at all from that point until 12pm, unless someone specifically asks me to check a particular, time-sensitive email. If anyone has anything important they need to discuss with me, I take great joy in the fact that we live in a technologically rich age. They can reach me via HipChat, Skype, our internal WooThemes P2 or via a text message or WhatsApp. If it’s important, they can still reach me.

Email is not a lifeline

Over time, we have distorted what email means to us. I look at a few of my relatives who check their email at specific times, once or twice a day, and I envy them. This is what email is meant for. If you don’t see an email that was sent at 9am, until 12pm, the email will still be there. If it’s urgent, they can contact you via a more appropriate channel.

A final thought

I’ll leave you with this final question; How many times a day do you check your postbox? Compare that to how many times a day you check your email (ie: your electronic postbox). Same thing, different approach. Why is there a difference?

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