Coping with email overload

I like email. But:

Email. There is too much of it.

Every minute something like 200 million emails are sent. Day and night, billions of emails—big and small—ping from computer to computer. The average worker spends nearly one third of his time on email each week, sending and receiving 120+ per day. Business email is expected to grow from 108 billion emails sent and received per day in 2014 to 139 billion in 2018.

Like many people, I knew I had email overload. I knew that I was increasingly a slave to my inbox. I just didn’t have the clarity to really understand how bad it had become.

For my recent honeymoon, I decided I would take the longest break from email that I had ever taken: roughly two weeks (the previous record was probably not much more than 48 hours). As in, total email abstinence. I committed to myself and now-wife that I would take a complete break from all things email. I didn’t open it, I didn’t check it, I actually disconnected my accounts from my phone and my laptop.

In their place, I left a 2,000 word autoresponder where I laid out my reasoning: In the last decade I’ve received something like 150,000 emails. I’ve had anxiety attacks, I’ve interrupted meetings, parties, and major life events for the sake of supposedly urgent email intrusions.

This Is What Email Overload Looks Like – Ryan Holiday, Thought Catalog (20 March 2015)

Read the full piece for what happened in response to that 2,000-word autoresponder and what life lessons the fella learned.

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