Controlling non-productive media and entertainment, such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, is obviously important. But what about technology mediums we deem necessary or important?
We couldn’t possibly turn off our phones. What if someone texts us? We must have an app for our email, so we can respond immediately, right?
Since I try to respond to emails promptly, I never, ever thought I would delete my Gmail app. But, my phone had run out of storage, making it impossible for music or podcasts to stream. So I deleted the app, fully intending to reclaim it as soon as I cleared off some space on my phone.
After a few days, I was surprised to realize that there are benefits to not having an app for email. My email had held an immense amount of power over my routines and behavior, more than I’d ever realized. Here are four reasons why I won’t be adding the Gmail app back on my phone:
1. Emails constantly try to invade your time.
Through the app, my emails always had access to me. They would demand my constant attention with alert dings.
Now, I have control. Rather than being interrupted sporadically by my emails, I check them when I choose. Limiting your email’s attention grabbing power could also reduce your stress level. According to an article by the Huffington Post, “The sound of the new email ping from your phone or computer can actually raise your heart rate and blood pressure.” We need to keep our email contained in order to cultivate a less stressed mind.
When I had my Gmail app, emails invaded all occasions. I was constantly connected, during speech class, parties, church activities, and scouting group. When I received an email while out of the house, I would often stop everything in order to read and respond to it. This caused me to bounce rapidly between different tasks and activities, never really paying full attention to what I was doing at the time. This random switching leads me to my next point.
2. You are not a ping pong ball.
Human beings were not designed to bounce from task to task at a frantic pace.
Multi-tasking is not only the enemy of productivity; it also causes us to be more frazzled. If you work hard during the times designated for work, there’s no guilt in being completely disconnected when you’re enjoying other activities. Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there!”
To that effect, when you’re checking your emails, don’t surf the web at the same time. When you are chatting with friends, ignore your email.
Before, I checked emails on an individual basis upon their arrival. Now, I try to give my email time to accumulate several messages, then respond all at once. It’s much more effective and productive to respond to emails in a group rather than each one individually.
3. Is it truly urgent?
We tend to attach the label “urgent” onto every task, activity, and event. In some ways, this can be beneficial. After all, some of us procrastinators would never accomplish anything unless we told ourselves, “It’s urgent.” However, just because a matter is “urgent” doesn’t signify that the world will spin out of control if the matter has to wait for a few hours. And in reality, very few tasks are actually “urgent.” Huffington Post cited a study conducted by Mimecast, which says, “only 39 percent of business email is ‘essential’ or ‘of critical importance’ for work.” If only thirty-nine percent of business emails are urgent, than imagine how much less for those of us who don’t have a work related email!
4. Answering emails is more effective when you schedule it into your day.
Many of us could get away with only checking our email once a day. Twenty-four hours is not too long to make anyone wait. During vacation periods we have the opportunity to cut back on email even further. Having a consistent time to check and respond to emails will result in a better outcome. When you give your email a designated time, you’re guaranteed to respond in twenty-four hours. With a random, frequent pattern of checking emails, more often than not we skip over emails with the excuse that we will “respond later” when we have access to our computer keyboards. Designating a time allows us to thoughtfully respond to messages in a timely manner.
While technology is important to help us stay in touch both for business and personal reasons, we need to place boundaries so that our tech life doesn’t impede our everyday life and interactions.