Learning the Stress email Causes


note: I found this in my archives of posts. I went through this about 8 months ago but thought it was interesting now to see where I’m at with email and how I got there.

In the summer of 2011, I moved this site from a single WordPress install on GoDaddy (I didn’t know any better when I started) to a WordPress Network installation on Media Temple. While doing this I totally screwed my MX records for a whole week, the result being that I could send emails but didn’t get any responses.

Observations

That week with no email was the most productive, stress free week I’ve had in a long long long time. Sure I knew that email was a bit of a PITA but I didn’t realize how much stress it brought in to my life till it wasn’t part of my life. I had so much less stress that I’m trying to figure out how I could totally kill email.

Unfortunately, short of changing my job I’m not sure how I could possibly cut email from my life entirely. I have emails from clients every day and they all need dealing with. I get emails from mailing lists that need dealing with (reading, deleting or responding). Emails from parents and relatives for updates on how the kid is doing…Email just runs our culture now.

Diet Steps

With the realization above I’ve been continuing to take steps to kill some of my stress. The first thing I did was to unsubscribe from as many newsletters as possible. Sure it’s neat to see what NewEgg has on sale but I never actually purchase anything so why do I keep letting them clutter up my inbox?

I also started filtering a number of the items from email lists. They get automatically filed and if I haven’t read them in 5 days they get deleted. Do I miss important things, I suppose it’s possible but I don’t think so. If it’s important enough I’ll hear about it from other sources like Twitter.

I’ve also changed how my iPhone gets email. I turned audible notifications off long ago (since email should be dealt with when it’s convenient for me) but I still had it set so that the little red badge would show up and things would push to me as they came in. That little red badge is stressful. How fun is it to start your day to see the number ’73’ waiting for you? Sure I realize that many of them will need little real work but it’s still a stressful number, so I’ve turned badges off in notification center.

Experiment

I’d really like to experiment with my email to figure out what type of email is the most stressful. Is it my client emails, which I think is highly likely or is it just the overwhelming volume of email I get on a regular basis? Is it clients emails demanding tighter and tighter deadlines (then maybe they should be fired). Who knows, but I’m hoping to find out.