Journal logo

How To Stop Death By Email

by Andrew Flanagan 6 months ago in advice
Report Story

Why Emails Are Killing You And How To Stop This

How many emails do you get a day? hundred?

Well here is the problem, these emails ARE KILLING YOU!

Now, this may sound over-dramatic. Okay Andrew you have lost your head this time.

I know that you are thinking that. How can emails be killing me?

Well... on Friday I took a day away from all shallow work. I stayed off answering clients on social media, I made my emails unavailable, I did not go on the internet, except in those brief ten-minute breaks, when I was not trying to do housework.

I got a lot done, I analysed nine books that I have read and started to process the information for my teachings and own understanding of the books.

From ten in the morning until five at night I focused on deep work.

In a future blog coming this week, I will discuss more the deep work and how it went.

But what surprised me was what happened when I finished work. I decided to look at my e-mails.

I took them off of unavailable and suddenly my computer almost froze. I watched as my computer began to heat up.

How many emails were trying to download?

FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN! Yes, you read that number right 447!

I was stunned, as a business owner it is normal for me to have emails come in all the time, they range from junk emails from books and products I have bought all the way to meetings that I need to attend.

This number shocked me. As I went through all of these emails I rated them on a scale to see just how pointless these emails were.

I rated them on a point system this is what it looked like:

0 points for spam

1 point for anything that needed responding to

2 points for anything that was non-urgent

3 points for anything that was urgent.

Once I had done this I then re-rated the emails based on the following scales:

0 points for anything that would take less than 10 seconds to answer i.e. needed a one or two-word reply.

1 point for anything that could be dealt with in 1 sentence.

2 points for anything that needed a couple of sentences

3 points for anything that needed a detailed response.

After that, I added up the scores.

0 Points- 292

1 Point- 102

2 Points- 53

3+ Points- 0

Now, let's analyse the results at an even deeper level:

65.3% of these emails were Spam

22.8% of these emails needed a response but were near enough yes or no.

11.9% of these emails needed a response but were non-urgent.

This is shocking. Why?

Well, it's all about the math.

If you take an average working day of seven and a half hours and each email that needed a response took 30 seconds each that is 46.5 minutes each day lost.

That may not sound a lot. But per year of working 337 days (giving 28 days off per year) that is FIFTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTY MINUTES A YEAR.

To put that into hours that is 261.17 hours that is 34.8 DAYS A YEAR answering emails.

To answer all of these emails I would lose an entire MONTH and FOUR DAYS.

If I was working for minimum wage in the United Kingdom that would be £2,325.51 OF LOSS.

This is monumental on any scale. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

While we have a monetary loss we also have the focus loss. The idea of moving from one task straight to another is impossible. We will always have some *attention residue.

This is when a person has to go from one task to the next. In the back of their mind, part of their brain will still have some focus on that last task.

To apply this to our email situation. If a worker has to go from filling in an important form, then has to go and move quickly to an important meeting.

Whilst in the meeting, a part of their conscious focus will still be thinking about filling in that form. Therefore they do not have the full focus on the meeting and what is being said.

If then when they get back to their desk they have to then answer an important email with a client, they cannot have their full focus on this. They will have the meeting and the form in the back of their mind.

This quickly becomes an issue, when you think of businesses needs. Workers are expected to juggle answering calls, emails, instant messages, on top of getting the money work done.

Now I am not anti- answering emails and clients. Not at all, this has an extremely important element of business and that is connectivity.

But, this issue is more about the need of always answer emails and clients. Whilst in the business short term it is great, however, it instead harms the business in a creative capacity.

Businesses spend out on marketing departments to handle creativity, but yet fail to allow any other worker from being creative by keeping them doing **shallow work.

This in my opinion is leaving a massive gap in potential.

But how does this work for someone like me? At the time of writing this, I have enough clients to warrant expanding, but it is not a necessity. By this, I have to do everything.

How does this apply to someone who has to do everything?

Very simply, it comes to limiting this work to only ***necessity.

By limiting the amount of time spent on this, as the statistics above, it becomes possible to reclaim days, for the deep work that leads to blogs like this.

Blogs that take longer to create, due to the extra research, rather than an opinion piece.

It leads to a better service, better quality ads, and better understandings.

Losing a month to emails, none of which were urgent and needed a long thoughtful response does not make sense.

Emails are killing us, they kill our ability to work on the projects that matter. They kill our attention and focus, leaving us to become brain dead to creativity.

Emails are a true killer, whether we admit it or not. Don't become a zombie, begin to limit your time on how much time you spend on emails.


*Attention residue is a term coined by Sophie Leroy in her 2009 paper entitled: Why Is It So Hard To Do My Work?

** Shallow work for this example is defined by Cal Newport in his book Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World

*** By this I mean only answering IM, Dm's Emails, IF it could lead to positive cash. flow.


About the author

Andrew Flanagan

Mindset & Business Coach:

Helping Entrepreneurs Grow Their Revenue Online

Utilizing battle-tested practical methods

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.