The War on Email

Cartoon about using email

I am constantly challenged by email.

On the one hand, I love it!

I am subscribed to all sorts of interesting people. Almost everything I learn online comes to me through email. I love hearing from people who read my work. And it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends.

The problem is, I often check it far more than I need to. I could still read all the emails and answer all that I need to, without the constant checking.

Arghh!

I am now, however, a fan of seriously restricting how I use it. The rewards are incredible. I get at least twice as much done in a day. Often more. And, when I do use it, I’m more focused and clear headed.

It makes sense when you think about it.

Every time you check your email it breaks up your rhythm. While you’re busy seeing who has emailed you, you’re filling in the spaces where creative ideas pop up in. It stops us figuring out the really hard stuff.

Consider these 6 strategies for using email successfully:

  1. Don’t have your email application open in the background—Close. It. Down.
  2. Read and answer emails at set times—once or twice a day
  3. Set up “rules” so favorite emails go straight into a folder to read later
  4. Unsubscribe from emails you no longer read—not my newsletter!! Just kidding. Even mine, if it’s cluttering up your life.
  5. Answer emails when you read them—for those emails that take less than 5 minutes to respond to.
  6. Remove email from your phone—or at least turn of the bleep that signals a new message

Please please please inspire me with stories of what you get done when you limit how you use it! I’d love to hear from you!

lisa

 

 

 

PS: The title of this email was inspired by the very wonderful book The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield.  A must read it you want to create anything! It talks about the resistance we feel at the end of a project that can completely derail us if we’re not careful.

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Comments

  1. Candice says:

    Lisa – such a great reminder, thank you! I completely agree on your strategy for email checking. Unfortunately, I cannot completely do that at work since emails are an integral part of my job. However, I have learned to screen what I need to get to right away vs. waiting. At work, we utilize Outlook which is great because a little pop up shows who it is from and what the subject is regarding. If it is from my boss or a customer I can click on it and read right away.
    At home, I have a completely different strategy. I check it once MAYBE twice a day, but I also do not have as many followers as you do to keep up with ;-)
    Happy 4th!

  2. Vanessa Fear says:

    Hey Lisa .. :) great article and cartoon :) Like Candice I have to have email open during work times, but I too close it down when I’m off duty. My weakness is Facebook. I know, I know … Close. It. Down….. :)

    • Work emails. That’s a whole other thing, isn’t it. Although, given how much more productive we can be when we don’t use it, I wonder if it would be more useful for workplaces not to use it so much. I guess it depends on the workplace!

      But it is a fascinating thing, isn’t it, how we get hooked on these things. It’s like a drug. And we’re all the same! Whatever one we use. Well, most of us are. I’ve dabbled in being less connected. But wow, over the past few weeks, I’ve been not checking it at all until lunchtime (ok not today), and it is truly amazing.

      Thanks Vanessa, nice to hear from you again!

  3. becky says:

    this is something to consider, since it becomes a daily habit.
    thank you!

  4. Janet says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I totally agree with the ‘monster’ that is my email inbox ;)

    This email address (yes I have 2 one work one personal) is full of “inspirational, self help blah blah blah” newsletters that I have signed up for, with the thought “maybe I can be a better me, if I just do this or change that” and of course once you sign up for one, all and I mean ALL their affiliates jump on the band wagon…”Oooh here’s a new thought system you simply MUST have and it only costs $$$” *sigh*
    I had a ‘light bulb’ moment or epiphany the other day as I scanned the ever growing beast, I realised “I am enough”…and…I don’t need others to tell me how to live my life.
    I can guarantee you that I will, mess up, screw up and laugh most of the time, but folks it’s my life! I then unsubscribed from all but a few (yours is definitely here to stay) and breathed a sigh of relief. Now the beast is under control and if I don’t check it for a few days it doesn’t matter…I am in control =)

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Happy Fourth of July! I just wanted to say thank you for the welcome reminder to limit habits that become obstructive to creativity. And also I wanted to say thank you for everything you do. I read everything and get excited about your (italicised) emails everytime. Thank you for making a difference in my life.

    Sincerely,
    A Rachel in Florida.

    • Thanks Rachel. Really do appreciate the shout out. And I love to hear that you enjoy my emails/articles. Happy 4th in Florida! (Hope it’s calmer there than here. We live on Venice Beach. Madness out there! Which is why I’m sitting inside drawing on my computer!)

  6. Suzanne Nelson says:

    Hi Lisa!
    Love this post – so wise! I nearly always have the ringer turned off my phone, much to the annoyance of people trying to get hold of me; but seriously? How much is that urgent? Recently I had to turn off the vibrate button to cut down on unwanted noise if the phone is set on a hard surface. I used to think this was a useful feature until without it for a few days I found it was actually really nice not be interrupted, have my attention drawn elsewhere even if I chose to ignore it; way better not to even have to make that choice! I love my phone and all it can do, wouldn’t be without it and now it doesn’t summon me constantly I feel it’s found it’s rightful place as a useful tool in the background ;)

  7. Buddhacrone says:

    Little slow here-computer died for a couple of weeks before everything was fixed. Since the computer is my window on the world, that was *really* interesting. My cell-phone is nonsmart, so I was just thrown entirely on my own resources. 1. caught up on all sorts of reading 2. summer TV really sucks-don’t watch much anyway and now see why. 3. actually did more meditating than I have been doing. YAY! 4. did more with garden plants than usual. They loved it. 5. Dog loved more attention 6. I am now deleting many lists I don’t really need. 7. Am now NOT darting to computer first thing in the morning.
    And the benefits go on…. :-) Never too old to learn something, hey?
    Love yr posts. I learn all sorts of wonderful things. Thank you!

    • Ooh, that does sound like a happy accident. It is so addictive, all this online stuff. I feel totally different too, when I unplug. Thanks for sharing – very inspiring!

  8. Email completely derails your creativity and your priorities …. you end up responding and taking care of other people’s priorities. I check my email first thing in the morning to make sure I attend to anything my boss needs ASAP – then I close it up and take care of my priorities for the day. I have found that many things in my email get handled without my involvement! And for those things that are important, people come and find me. They usually start with “did you get my email?” — I just say “no” so they explain the issue and we deal with it. I agree with you … closing down email and checking it infrequently and on a schedule is the single most important thing you can do to increase your own productivity!

    • Love hearing how you manage email! Very inspiring. Interesting how most things get sorted by themselves. It’s so easy to fire off an email, rather than try and sort something out. Thanks for stopping by=)

  9. Hi Lisa, a few years ago i started meditating and unplugging from this materialistic virtual world and started questioning everything. I came to the conclusion that we are here on this wonderfull planet to learn. To learn about ourselves and change for the better. Eventually my thought patterns dwindled to the present and here we are today. Problem for me is that now i have opened my mind to ‘real living’, i can now see just how far we are from living at one with nature and honouring eachother with our every breath. I seek quiet and solitude within mother nature but deep down i know what we are doing to this place and eachother. Watching my daughters morph into socially acceptable humans is like watching a bad film and they care not when i try to ‘enlighten’ them. How does one let go of the Truth of what one sees without it affecting them? It seems selfish if i just switch my mind to now and not care that the world is being destroyed.Infact i care too much to let go of it. Lisa, any pointers would be very welcome.
    Kind regards, darren

    • HI Darren,

      This is one of those questions where an article length feels like a better way for me to express my view. But briefly, I think it’s a mistake to look at other people and judge how they’re living. Not because it’s bad, or wrong, but because, how do we know? How do any of us know, what is best for someone else? We can’t see the future. We can’t see where decisions etc will take people.

      Re the truth. How do you/we know what the truth is? Your daughters may know more about the truth than we do. Who knows. Re the planet – what if how the world is, with all it’s pollution etc, was perfect?

      I don’t think it’s selfish to switch our mind to now. There is a lot of love in now. Though, I personally don’t think living in the moment is any better or worse than not living in the moment. They’re just different. I know my view here is different to many. But we can, if we’re not careful, become as materialistic about “good living” and being spiritual and all that, as the people we’re critical of.

      Does this help? Let me know what you think.

      Lisa

  10. Hi Lisa
    I find email very distracting and I find it anxiety provoking to prioritise when ‘many’ things feel important. This is at work. I believe this is partly due to lack of confidence in my decision making ability and the fear of making a mistake. Probably as a result of punishment for errors learnt growing up. Home email well that’s another story. Too many signups leading to information overload, ‘like what, was I gonna miss out on something profound?’ I like your thinking and your writing style. Very engaging, warm, personable and charismatic. And I absolutely agree with and found your comments on ‘materialistic spirituality’ a perfect description of just another extreme of possibly just another addiction. Being enlightened or the illusion of thinking we know what all of life means, is high falutin’ and can just be another way of being ‘morally superior’. I call it the masquerade ball of insecurity. I guess I’ve had enough counselling and being ‘preached at’ that I now believe that no prescriptive is better than any other and what resonates within from our encounters and basically life, is our inner compass and guide. I believe the saying that when the student is ready the teacher appears (is that how it goes)? I believe in synchronicity and believe I was drawn to your page for a reason. It feels right to me. I watched the youtube video of your interview with Amy Johnson. As well as resonating with me, I got a warm fuzzy glow as I could see the respect, friendship and bond that you and Amy have for each other weaving it’s magic as you spoke. It was a delight to watch. Amazing how effortless it is when there is that relational bond. It’s invisible and mystical. Love and the very essence of who we are, swirling around us like a beautiful fluid aura with the warmth of a cocoon and then the amazing feeling when those special relational moments happen when we truly are the butterfly. Being at ease and comfortable in your own skin. Really and how lucky are we to feel and be emotional beings? I can’t imagine how desolate life would be devoid of emotion. My point? I don’t know. I just felt inspired to write this and let it flow. On a different note I went and saw Stephen Fry’s live screening for the launch of his new book, ‘More Fool Me’. I love his storytelling style, sooo funny, his intelligence, humbleness and wit. Thoroughly enjoyable. Having pleasurable experiences is important as well as alone time. I am in awe of your year of silence. I don’t think I could do it! I’m not terribly social but on the other hand I give of myself to people that are important in my life. Helps lend a hand on perspective. Again I think what resonates or importantly doesn’t, really helps you to see what really matters to you. And yep it doesn’t really matter what is thrown at you, it’s just all that pesky thinking, and thinking about thinking that gets in the way. Do you ever have those moments of clarity where you just feel like you are dissolving into part of the cosmic energy, where the ‘you’ just disappears? Omg that feels so good and a little frightening as it happens. The thing I struggle with most is seeing a lot of surface shallowness and judging it. Says more about me than them and the urge in us to judge. I am compassionate and empathic but find shallowness drains my energy. Finding more of my own kin is happening all by itself. When I am able to be most honest and vulnerable and can express it is the best feeling for me. Now I have rambled on long enough, lol! I am looking forward to more of your blog and artwork. Just love it, go Lisa ra ra ra! Here’s to living life and being. (Still gotta lot of work to do on myself, a work in progress, but I feel happy on the deeper level, underneath that scungy layer of doubt and insecurity). Sorry if I have written this in the wrong section on emails. I had no idea this stuff would come out. All the best, Kim

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