How I Quit Email in 2010

Here’s how I got off the drug known as “email” in January 2010.

Now of course I didn’t give up email totally, but I’ve freed up an insane amount of time by changing the way I use email.

I used to check email non-stop. It was usually the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing I did at night.

Upon waking up, I’d reach over to the night side table and grab my phone. If I awoke in the middle of the night and had to get up, I’d take my iPhone with me. I was constantly checking and handling whatever task, question or problem that came up at that moment. Didn’t matter when or where I was, my iPhone was an extension of me.

This was my way of “Getting Things Done.” By handling situations, questions or issues immediately as they came up. It works from the standpoint of constantly being on top of things and knowing what’s going on, but doesn’t work in terms of being productive and truly getting things done. It’s a time sucker and I got sucked in.

You all know how much time email can suck away from us. We find ourselves getting into email chats going back and forth with no end in sight.

I used to be like “that guy” at the restaurant who had his iPhone out and was texting away during dinner. I was proudly, however, never the guy with the funny Bluetooth earpiece.

After reading “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss again I decided that January was the time to kick my addiction.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I consolidated all my accounts on to my main computer at my office.

Before doing this, I used to be able to check any email account from my laptop, iPhone, home computer and the office.

If I was away or traveling, I was able to log in to a handful of catch-all Gmail accounts. I removed the ability to check  from every computer except my office computer. I also removed the catch-all Gmail accounts.

Next I set up an auto-responder using Tim’s template and made a few changes. If you want to see the template, send me an email at noahfleming2007 (@) gmail.com and you’ll instantly be hit with the auto-responder.

I’m proud to say that even though it has only been 26 days, I’m off the email crack. I now check my email twice per day. Once at 11:00 a.m and the second time at 4:00 p.m. After that, I don’t check for the rest of the day. Everything else has to wait till the next morning.

Support for any issues that may arise is handled by my tech support guys.

One thing you’ll notice about the email template (if you requested it) is that I provide a phone number and mention that if it’s an actual emergency they can call my cell phone. The number I provide in the email is a free Google Voice # which goes directly to voicemail.  This way I don’t give out my actual cell phone number to solicitors or anyone else who may be calling to disrupt me from getting some work done.

Those who genuinely need to reach me in an emergency situation already know how to do so. When someone leaves a voicemail I see it at either 11:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. as it shows up in my inbox. For everyone else, if there is an actual emergency or they need to reach me urgently, they can contact my personal cell phone (which I am assuming most have).

Giving up email in 2010 has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done this year.

Now, as with any drug, I have fallen off the wagon a few times. Each time though I’ve climbed right back on and it’s getting easier every day. There are also times when cheating is a must (you’ve registered for a site and need to confirm your email). That’s fine, just make sure you do just that. No checking or responding until your set times.

If you’re a junkie like I was, follow my footsteps here…It’s liberating.