3 Ways To Break The Email Habit And Improve Mental Focus

The Email Habit

I have a confession to make—I’m a bit of an email addict.

As a self-employed freelance writer, checking email is directly connected to my work. My thoughts would scream, “Do I have another job to do? Is there an update on that project?” As a result, the first thing I would do every day is check my email.

Then I’d check again twenty minutes later. And then follow up many more times during the day. Finally, I noticed things were actually getting worse.

I found myself lacking in mental focus and checking my email more and more. Fortunately, I read Productivityist founder Mike Vardy’s new book with Jeremy Roberts called Do Better With Asana. The book was eye-opening in how it explained the email problem, which I didn’t expect. I thought it’d be more of an “unofficial” Asana manual. But it turned out to be more than that.

After reading the book, I started applying the concepts presented regarding email. Now instead of being reactive and prioritizing tasks due to email, I am now proactive with my work through Asana.

However, this shift did not happen overnight. Do Better With Asana was really my tipping point which gave me the final push I needed to help change my approach.  Here are three steps you can take if you struggle with email:

  1. Admit you have a problem. I know that sounds a little cliche, but it is true. Admit what you are doing is not working. There is no shame in this–you just found out what didn’t work. Once you know there is a problem, then you can work on a solution.
  1. Consider dropping the smartphone (at least for a little while). This change does not have to be permanent; even just taking a couple of weeks off can help. This may not be necessary for everyone, but this is a great way to have instant clarity. I did this over a month ago and I’m  glad I did. I just use my phone now with wifi only. Besides, do I really need to check email if I’m out for dinner with my family? I’ve realized I don’t. Setting boundaries is a great way to develop discipline.
  1. Schedule designated times to check email. I prefer to check email four times now: once in the morning after I know what tasks I’m doing, once in the afternoon, once after lunch, and once in the evening. Sure, there are some days where I check it a little more than that, but no longer am I checking email countless times a day. A shift toward intentionality makes all the difference.

The best part about this new approach to email is that I’m no longer dependent on having one specific piece of paper with me. Now I can access my projects from my desktop, tablet, or mobile device with Asana and not use email as a means to determine what to do next. I know the specific tasks I have to do and in what order. Asana is a fantastic tool that can completely change how you view email and project management. Even if you run a “one man operation” like I do.

What is your approach with email? How do you avoid spending too much time in your inbox? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.

New to Asana? Have you been using it for a while and want to get more out of it? Then purchase the book Mike Vardy co-authored with fellow Asana aficionado Jeremy Roberts called Do Better With Asana. It’s the ultimate Asana resource that features tactics, tips, and tricks that will turn you into an Asana action figure. Buy Do Better with Asana directly here or through Amazon.