I Ditched My Emails for a Month. Here's What It Taught Me.

3bda33946826fb34ac701b2801c30848.jpg

As an unintentional experiment, I spent a month ignoring my inbox. Here’s what it taught me. 

Allow me to start with an apology:

If you’ve tried to email me recently, you won’t have received a response. Not a word. Nada.

I could say it was because I’m overwhelmed with work (which I am), or because I’ve been travelling (which I have). Both of those reasons are true, and yet none of them more so than this:

I am tired. Woefully, wearily tired.

Why does it feel semi-embarrassing to write that?

Maybe it’s because we’re a society possessed by email. We spend hours, days, months of our lives controlling it. We take pride in responding quickly to it. We even read whole articles about how to get better at it.

 

And before this experiment, I was no different.

But my when my personal email address shut down unexpectedly, I had to make a decision: I could spend a Saturday attempting to retrieve it, or I could, well, take a break from it.

In a moment of madness, I chose the latter. 

If you’re shaking your head right now, I don’t blame you. 

Girl, I get it.

But losing access to my inbox wasn’t all that terrible. In fact, *whispers* I kind of liked it.

Sure, I worried about seeming rude and disorganised. (And it goes without saying that I'd never be able to ignore my work emails.) And yet, this small experiment gave me a fresh perspective on things. A perspective that I'd love to share with you. 

Let's start with the fact that we all apologise for our belated emails, ALL of the time.

Seriously. 

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 17.26.04.png

We apologise for not replying. We apologise for being late. We apologise and apologise and apologise.

And for what?

If you had a dollar for every time you’ve ever started an email with “sorry for the delayed response!”, how rich would you be? Personally, I’d be Forbes-level ballin’, somewhere between Jay Z and Warren Buffett.

 

But unless it’s urgent (like, actually urgent), there’s no need to say sorry for not responding straight away. Emails don't come with a deadline, after all.

Not only are you doing yourself a disservice, by apologising for no reason, but your incessant apologising is making other people feel obligated, too.

See my point? Email guilt is an epidemic and it’s time we ditched it. For ourselves and for each other, stat. 

And then there's the headspace I gained. Oh, the headspace!

After my first email-free week, I started noticing my thoughts becoming more fluid, and my attention span expanding for the first time since childhood. I was present. 

Because here's the thing:

The answer to your business problem or creative conundrum is never going to be found at the bottom of your inbox. No matter how many folders you create or how fast you reply.

In order to do your best work, you need to step away from your inbox. Fact. Email is, by and large, reactive rather than proactive -- a form of structured procrastination, if you will. 

Your energy is currency. Spend it on the work that really matters. 

Above all, my email ban taught me that I owed myself a break. Really, I did. 

And you do, too.

Let's quit the superwomen facade: we're all doing our best and sometimes we need breaks.

Needing a break and being brilliant are not mutually exclusive things.

Allow this post to serve as your permission slip that says it’s ok:

It’s ok to go off the radar. It’s ok to not reply. It’s ok to hide away in bed for a day. It’s ok to hide away in bed for a while. It’s ok. It’s more than ok. It’s a sanity check and essential and a note to self that says “you’re doing just great”.

So, the next time I take a while to respond, you know where to find me.

Taking a break. Taking my time. Reclaiming my life as my own. 

I'll try not to apologise.

Bianca Bass