Don't let emails dictate your priorities for the day

I rarely visit my Linkedin profile. The only time I do this is when I receive a request to be added as a contact. I go and check if I know him/her or know someone really close that does and then add him or her or ignore the invitation. That's it. I haven't updated my profile in ages.

I get a weekly email from Linkedin that has some articles (which it figures based on my industry and interests, I assume). Most of the time I delete the emails. Who wants gyaan? Once in a way, however, I quickly scan through the email to see if any of the article titles look interesting. If I find something, I will click on the link and read the article. This happens rarely though.

A few days back, I got a link to this article in the email. Sounded interesting. I went through it. Somewhere in the article it said something about not starting your day by checking your email. The author advised not to let others dictate your priorities for the day. Though the article was referring to how you should start your day, a little reflection made me realize that I let emails not only dictate my morning but also my entire day. Often all I do for an entire morning is to respond to emails sent by others! I was shocked to realize what I was doing.

The things that I considered important, the things that I really need to do related to my work were all getting relegated to the background. All of these were lying untouched in my To-do list. I was happily responding to emails helping others get their work done while my work was all piling up!

So, I thought to myself, why not try a little experiment? One problem with me is I cannot bear 'unread'. If I get email, I HAVE TO READ IT! I cannot bear that red tag on the Mail icon on my dock. It has to be clean! So, the only way I was going to get away from answering email was to quit the Mail app. I did that. To my sheer amazement, the entire morning was so unbelievably productive! I got a lot of my pending stuff done, I worked on some important things that I had been procrastinating on. Just before lunch, I felt so good. I had a great sense of satisfaction.

I then opened my email and saw that the world had not ended just because I did not check email for a few hours. I took care of the emails, had lunch and then repeated the same exercise.

I am going to do this regularly now. I must realize that email is not my work. Email should at best, enable me to communicate. Nothing more than that. If anyone needs me to respond urgently, they can call!