A Week Without Email
Less. Better.

Back in Fall 2013, to disconnect from the Internet over my holidays in New York, I decided to deactivate my email for a whole a week, from the 11th to the 18th of October.

First, I removed my email account from the iOS mail app settings, so I would not get any alerts whenever I got Wi-Fi connection during the trip.

Second, I programmed an automated reply for incoming email, so people who emailed me knew I was on holiday. And last, I gave an alternative contact to some of my clients, so they could reach me in case they had an emergency.

I got back home from the trip the morning of the 18th. That night, at 3 am, I checked my email for the first time that week. My Inbox folder had a total of 167 new emails, just from that week. 75 out of those 167 were classified by Gmail as “social” emails, from Twitter and other services.

It took me exactly twenty three minutes to go through all of the email. How much time would I had spent looking at each email as they entered my Inbox during the trip? Surely, more than twenty three minutes—and my mind would have been drifting away from New York every time a new email popped up.

I know leaving incoming messages aside is not always possible, but when it is, services like email should be processed in batches. Also, email and other notifications can be filtered in order to prioritize messages from certain remitters in order to avoid getting distracted with email.

How often do you check your email?

January 13, 2014