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Why I Took Email Off My Phone

12/05/2016 06:59 EST | Updated 12/05/2016 06:59 EST
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Man text messaging

I took email off my phone 5 years ago and it's been one of the best business and personal decisions I've ever made. And yes, the irony is clear to me given I run a technology company.

It's a practice I've come to take for granted now however recent encounters with friends have inspired this post to my future self in case I find myself addicted again to my phone because of email...

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Email sucks

First of all, email sucks. The first email ever sent was by Ray Tomlinson, a programmer, in 1971 to connect information from one computer to another computer (both of which were right beside each other). Given your mom refers to your iPhone 5 as ancient technology, email must then be from the stone ages. The way we use this stone age era technology has not evolved much over 40 years. Email was not designed to facilitate efficient and effective communication at the scale we now operate, with billions of people connected on tens of billions of devices.

When it feels like work

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With email on your phone, you are reacting constantly to the needs of other people. And it frankly will feel like work. And it's not the individual actions, it's the cumulative effect which will lead to you feeling like you're always working.

Email, like a bag of chips, is addictive. Even with the most discipline, you will break. Having email on your phone is the equivalent to walking around with an open bag of chips with you. All the time. It doesn't sound very healthy, does it?

The anticipation of someone sending you a message leads to checking obsessively, even when there's nothing there. Imagine walking outside your house, going to the mailbox and checking for snail mail...every 20 minutes. You'd feel pretty ridiculous, wouldn't you?

Remember: multitasking is a myth.

You're a leader

And part of your responsibility is to set a positive example for those around you. It sets a terrible example if you're constantly disrupting the personal lives of your team and your customers, by sending them emails which they'll (unfortunately) feel obliged to read and respond to, 24/7.

The cost of burnout of even a single team member is high. They become unproductive, less efficient, need more time away to recover and are an energy drain on those around them. Letting that message wait until the next morning is a smart financial decision versus suffering from the high cost of burning people out (including yourself).

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The world does not stop

You have successfully taken email off your phone for the past 5 years. And didn't tell anyone on your team about it until one year ago. No one noticed or complained once. The business has not slowed over the past 5 years. Like any entrepreneurial journey, you've had your fair share of bumps along the way, however imagine how many more bumps you'd have if you were constantly reacting and addicted to working 24/7, versus having time to disconnect from the day-to-day, thinking bigger picture and being creative. This is why you disconnect while taking time away.

The only exception to having email on your phone that you've made is while on business trips, because you have a habit of being late (sometimes) for client meetings and need to give them a heads up.

A sound sleep

You sleep better when you have a few hours to wind-down all the activity from the day. The process of falling asleep involves the production of melatonin within our brain, which is a natural process that gets hijacked when we're exposed to artificial lights (i.e. screens). The result of being addicted to your phone at night is it will take longer to fall asleep.

Consuming information at unwanted times will get your mind racing. You'd much rather read an interesting book or have a conversation with a friend in the evening, and let that influence your subconscious, then reading work emails late at night.

A beautiful morning

Your mornings would get hijacked by reacting to what happened the night before, if the first thing or second thing you did was check email.

Thanks to not having email on your phone, your morning routine has become a source of energy and excitement for your day ahead. Being consistent with your daily meditation, journaling, yoga and reading practices are what help you feel grounded and calm. They help you start your day off in a good place, positive and upbeat.

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Not convinced yet?

Then be fearless and try it for a day. A 24-hour period. And don't tell anyone you're experimenting. Just delete that mail app from your phone (turning off notifications or push updates doesn't count). And experience for yourself if anyone notices, how you feel at night and how you wake up the next morning.

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Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar. He leads a talented team transforming the media publishing industry with technology. He is passionate about leadership and finding focus in a modern era. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Medium or Twitter.

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