Wake up. Check inbox. Get dressed. Make coffee.
This is a routine I go through just about every single day. I’ve never really questioned it or thought much about it. But recently, I’ve begun to notice that one of the tasks I engage in first thing in the morning doesn’t mesh well with the others.
Spoiler alert (in case you haven’t already guessed): It’s the inbox checking.
Email is one of the most critical means of communication in the modern professional world. So many updates, plan changes, and opportunities are passed along through email on a daily basis. It makes sense why I, along with millions of others, want to check my email as frequently as I do.
Email makes it easy for us to pass messages along and helps us avoid all too awkward phone calls and in-person discussions. In many ways, email is a lifesaver. We’ve all had those times when we’ve needed to get a deadline at work or school pushed back, which we’ve only been able to notify others of because of email. In fact, it’s hard to even picture what the world would be like nowadays if we were stripped of the convenience that is email.
However, as marvelous as email is, it is not without its drawbacks. One that I’ve recently picked up on is how it has affected us as people. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if rather than a useful communication tool controlled by us, email is the one doing the controlling. (Not in, like, an artificial intelligence taking over the world kind of way, but in a figurative sense…allow me to elaborate).
Do you ever get that sense of dread and panic when a notification pops up telling you there is a message in your inbox? A feeling that won’t let go of you until you’ve viewed the message because you just have to know what someone might need from you? It’s almost like a drop of water dripping down from a leaky faucet. No matter how hard you try to ignore it, you can’t get the sound of the water hitting the bottom of the sink to leave your mind. You have to do something about it.
That’s the problem email has created for us. Its accessibility may give us the opportunity pass along urgent messages whenever we need to, but that ability doesn’t come without consequence. Email makes it impossible for us to ever be fully disconnected. We can’t escape it because it is always there, in our phones and in our laptops. Even when we try to cast it aside for short periods of time, we know that messages are sure to be piling up, waiting for us to get back so they can direct us to do a million different things.
In a weird way, email is exhausting.
I can’t say that I hate email or wish I didn’t have access to it as much as I do. But I also can’t say that I love how email intrudes upon my life at any time on any day. A disappointing email that arrives in my inbox on a Saturday afternoon can successfully ruin the weekend for me. Similarly, news that comes to me via email on a weekday evening about a project I have to get going on the following morning can transform a relaxing sleep into a stressful night of tossing and turning.
Emails don’t wait for the optimal time to break something to you. Checking your inbox at the wrong time can sour an entire experience and completely take you out of the moment.
That being said, I’m going to make a conscious effort to check my email less frequently. I might not be able to permanently shield myself from messages that come my way, but I can wait until I am fully prepared to deal with whatever’s in my inbox.
How do you feel about email?