“WHY ARE WE ALL STILL USING E-MAIL?”
If that’s a question you’ve asked yourself recently, you’re in good company. Despite the slew of communication alternatives cropping up almost daily, from Slack to Viber to Snapchat to WeChat, e-mail— which even The New York Times has called out for its “terrible, horrible, no-good impact on our daily lives”—has managed to endure against all odds. And it’s only getting worse. Today, e-mail isn’t just a stressful repository of messages from your boss and everyone else (Mom, marketers, incarcerated Nigerian princes who really need your help), it’s also a glut of other time-sucks: to-do lists, file transfers calendars, shared word processing… The cold, hard truth is, every time your e-mail pings in your pocket and you feel that knee-jerk excitement that makes you scramble for your phone, you have no idea what it’s for. There’s got to be a better way to live, right? Right. Of course, you don’t have to disavow e-mail entirely, like BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau chief, Mat Honan, did earlier this year. (“I no longer use personal e-mail,” reads his autoreply. “Please contact me via another method.”) All you really need to do is get smarter about how you use it, download the right e-mail-friendly apps, and make sure you take advantage of the great new tools that make cleaning up your in-box a breeze. Just follow these six steps and you’ll thank me later.
Check your personal e-mail just three times a day (well, at least try to)
Yes, this is both supremely obvious and insanely hard to do, but it bears mentioning, thanks to a new study in Computers in Human Behavior that confirmed it: It’s healthier to look at your in-box less.
Two University of British Columbia scientists split 124 subjects into two groups: One group was allowed to check e-mail as often as they wanted, while the other was told to check it just three times a day and turn off all notifications. The eye-opening result: Subjects who looked at e-mail less felt significantly less stress; they also experienced “other positive outcomes, including higher mindfulness, self- perceived productivity, and improved sleep quality.”
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