In the last post, I explored some of the underlying dynamics that are a likely culprit / source of our trouble with email. Today, I will further develop this theme and offer a set of practical solutions that have worked for me.
One important angle to the email trap is that promptly answering (all?!) emails feels good for a quick moment because we take it as a sign of how kind and engaged we are. Unfortunately, by replying to all emails (for many years my Sunday afternoon activity), you are soliciting the next volley of emails. You can get easily swept up by those dynamics. All humans crave in one or the other way for a feeling of belonging and of purpose. Creating an internal model in which we are inundated with emails that require our attention gives us the feeling that we are important and thus live a life of purpose. Replying to every message as fast as possible is giving us the feeling that we are connected and part of a social network. Yet, these positive emotions are not sustained in this process. Rather we increasingly loose our internal agency by replacing it with an external agency. We rely on what others drop into our inbox and pay with a lack of time and focus for the important priorities in our lives. As a result, we are getting more stressed and less happy, with the consequence that we are even less like to succeed with a more rational approach that requires more of our prefrontal cortex.
Somebody must stop this. Here is the system that I have developed. Give it a try and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.