Shallow work is the type of work that is necessary but doesn’t create anything. Its often necessary and is the nuts and bolts of an operation but at the end of the day it rarely moves anything forward.
Email is one of these mundane and shallow activities.
But when is the last time you created anything great by getting through your email and checking it constantly? Email is a distraction that takes our focus from our activities. We get addicted to the ping or notification that someone has sent us something. We think it looks good for us if we respond right away. Its the allure of being on top of it. But at the end of the day if you are just sitting in front of your email all day the mundane and shallow is all you have. You haven’t taken the time to focus on making something beautiful.
Close down your email. Check it at certain scheduled times throughout the day (because yes, its necessary to keep things running). But get back to creating, building, improving, and at the end of the day creating something that makes a lasting impact. The ideas and projects that truly make a difference take the focus and dedication that is destroyed by being constantly distracted by your email.
The problem is that email serves as an allusion of productivity that gives us a feeling that we accomplished a lot throughout the day. We receive immediate satisfaction that we are on top of it.
But if that is what is consuming your day then really you’re not creating and building anything great. Surprisingly, I’ve found out, that you can still be “on top of it” by scheduling certain times throughout the day to check, respond, and defer emails but this also allows you to schedule bigger blocks of focus to work on the project idea that will actually move something forward.
For some, this means scheduling six or seven times throughout your day to check your email. For others, you can get by with one or two times a day. Everyone’s job is different but its the discipline and planning that will make a difference. Overall, you will be better for it.
At the end of the day, if you are truly needed immediately, the important people in your life will be able to get a hold of you and not through email.
Email doesn’t create anything beautiful. It doesn’t inspire or produce imaginative ideas. Vision for a better program never happens over email. Take the time to focus on creating things that will make a difference.