Sure, staying on top of your email makes you feel productive, but it can also cause you unnecessary anxiety.
During an appearance at Marie Claire's Power Trip conference this past weekend, Tyra Banks shared how being on maternity leave with her newborn son had "quieted" her life.
"I took email off of my phone, so now I just text and do Facebook,” she told attendees.
Who can blame Tyra? There are so many more things that demand our time - from an overly active inbox (try being an editor at ESSENCE) to social media and text messages (because no one can pick up the phone anymore).
A parent at my son’s school recently revealed how she had been living without a cellphone for the past 10 years. “10 years?” I asked, shocked. How do you do it? “When I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time, I’ll be there at that time,” she said, adding that living without a cellphone meant she had to be more present. “I find that when people have phones they’re preoccupied with them,” she added. It must be working because this woman is one of the most Zen, and fabulous, people I’ve ever met.
I can confess to an email addiction. I’m the mom screaming at her children to get off her phone, and then 10 minutes later, I’m checking my work email for the hundredth time. I’m your classic hypocrite; this I know. Kids, get off the phone so mommy can check her email. How ridiculous do I sound?
Checking work email on my phone makes me feel like I’m not missing anything. Like, I got this! Meanwhile, it’s also a huge anxiety-inducer, according to a survey released by the Future Work Centre earlier this year.
“Despite its widespread usage and popularity as a communication tool, for some individuals and employers, [email] can be a source of major frustration, anxiety and lost productivity,” concludes the study.
A few more findings from the survey:
- On average, adults spend over one hour of each day on email. Yikes!
- Higher email pressure was associated with more examples of work negatively impacting home life and home life negatively impacting performance at work.
- 196.3 billion emails sent in 2014 – 108 billion were work-related.
- The feeling of email overload can lead to email users experiencing stress. Email overload occurs when the user’s perception of email volume exceeds their perception of their ability to deal with it all. In some studies, this experience of email overload leads to unwelcome physical symptoms and even emotional exhaustion.
- Email can also act as a distractor, whereby it diverts your attention away from other things you should or want to be working on.
So what are the solutions if you can’t completely take off your email from your phone like Tyra?
- Only open your email when you need to use it; don’t have it open all day or you’ll constantly be interrupted by emails.
- Try only checking email once an hour or every other hour to you're not constantly stopping what you're doing to start answering emails.
- Switch off email notifications on your phone so you’re not constantly on call.
- Implement an email curfew. No one enjoys getting an email from you at 3:42am. No ma'am!
How do you stay on top of email anxiety?
Yolanda Sangweni is the Deputy Editor of ESSENCE.com. Follow her on Twitter.