On the left is a screenshot of what my phone used to look like. On the right is a photo of my wife and son. I cherish those vibrant smiles! For a while, though, I was missing out on too many of their joyful expressions. My family was in the same room with me, but I wasn’t engaging with them because my face was buried in my mobile device replying to emails. Furthermore, the quality of my engagement with clients suffered as well. Instead of crafting thoughtful replies while in the right frame of mind, I was shooting off brief replies just to get through the process.
I never gave this a second thought before I became a parent. Though frankly, my wife never appreciated my incessant distraction. So why did I do it? Because I thought I had to. It’s what executives do, right? They monitor everything happening in their company 24/7 and are quick to respond to each opportunity and challenge that comes their way. But at what cost? In my case, it cost my mental and emotional presence during personal/family time. I was present in body, but my mind was somewhere else.
I’m not the only person with this habit. Other people in my company do it. Many of my colleagues and peers do it. Advisors fall victim to it. It’s almost like some sort of sick social club:
“I replied to your email at 10:00 p.m. so I must be committed like you are. Let’s be pals!”
But replying to work emails on evenings and weekends isn’t responsible. It’s shortsighted.
I came to this realization a couple months ago and made a major adjustment to how I manage email that has changed my life for the better. This change has been so profoundly beneficial to my life and relationships that I feel obligated to share it. Taking these two steps has made me a better CEO and a better family man.
SaneBox is magical and more people should use it! While the tool offers many features, I’ll cover two that are most valuable to me.
First, whenever I receive an email, SaneBox checks to see if it was sent as part of an email blast to a mailing list. If so, it is automatically diverted to a separate folder called SaneNews. All my newsletters and advertisements go to this folder. I know they’ll remain there unopened for me to read later. Nothing in my SaneNews folder is urgent so I feel no pressure to check it. Every once in a while when I have spare time, I’ll go review what’s there and read what piques my interest. If I find something I want to prioritize to my inbox for the future, I can just drag it there and it will come to my inbox from then on.
Second, whenever someone I have no interest in hearing from keeps pestering me by email, I can drag their email to SaneBlackHole. Once I do this, all future emails from that person or organization are sent to a folder where they stay for one week until they are automatically deleted — never to bother me again (it’s glorious).