I Did Indeed Survive Without Email

Finally, a very belated follow-up to my “Can I Live Without Email Post?” The short answer is, yes, apparently I can. If youre interested in the longer answer, read on.

The first thing I did when leaving the office on Tuesday, July 3 was this:

Turning off work email on my iPhone

When I got home, I also turned off work email on my iPad. After that, it was simply a matter of willpower. I was a bit surprised at how strong the urge to check email was at first — it appears to have really become a nervous tic. Bored? Check my email. It got easier once wed actually left town. For two reasons: first, AT&T service is pretty sparse in Door County and wifi is not always available. And secondly, because when this is your view:

With views this pretty, who needs email?

who cares about email? I mean, really, I could look at my phone or I could look at this. No contest.

(If Im going to be totally honest, I have to confess to having turned the email back on a couple of times in order to send and receive emails from students applying for internships. We were working to set up interviews for the week after I returned, so there was no way to avoid that. I did not, however, look at anything else while doing that and it was over quickly).

Still, I did manage to go for 10 days basically without looking at email. And you know what? It was fine. No one died, things at the office were fine (there one was one mini-crisis where I needed to make a decision, so they texted me), and coming back was not as bad as I feared. Here are the stats (for those of you who love data):

  • Sunday, July 15, 9:13 a.m.: 422 new messages in my inbox;
  • Deleting based on sender/subject line left 133 items;
  • A second pass to get rid of those that needed to be read but could be immediately deleted and/or filed left 62 items.

In other words, while I was gone, I received 422 emails, but only 62 of them actually mattered or needed a reply/further processing. That tells me two things: 1) I get a lot of useless email (luckily Im pretty good at deleting ruthlessly and quickly) and 2) I can probably afford to dial back a bit without missing anything *that* important. So (taking a clue from Stacy Oliver) thats my new goal for the upcoming academic year– to not always be checking my email when Im away from the office. I know it will get more difficult once the semester starts and brings with it meeting-packed days and student emails, but I am hopeful that this experience can help get me closer to some kind of inbox sanity.

What about you? How do you deal with email overload and/or vacations/weekends? If you have any great tips, please share them — I still need a lot of help 🙂

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