• Patrick McAndrew

The Email Dream Crusher

When we open our laptops, no matter where we work, we often feel as if we are entering a battlefield. We open the web browser and go to our email provider. Some of us may enter our username and password, but many will automatically be signed in. The page loads and we find an endless list of incoming emails demanding our attention at this very moment. And, so, we dive in.

A daily goal for most of us at work is to simply clear our inboxes, or at least get our inboxes as close to clear as possible. This proves to be difficult, as we are constantly bombarded by other distractions, be they meetings, other online distractors, or people coming up to us to chat. Some of us have jobs where getting through our email is our main priority, and that’s fine. But in jobs or careers where we are looking to progress, build something, or work towards a certain mission, email can be the ultimate dream crusher.

Most people aspire to something. Even if we don’t necessarily know what the end goal is, we want to be doing meaningful work and work that serves some greater purpose. In order to achieve this, we need to work hard and learn new things. This becomes near impossible if we spend our days answering emails. We are at the whims of others who, just as likely, are trying to clear their inboxes as well. This becomes an endless cycle where we are talking back and forth about things that are minute. Email has never been the catalyst for anything monumental. While email may be good for organizing a meeting or sending over data points, it is detrimental in the terms of forward momentum and progress.

Perhaps email’s biggest flaw is that it puts us into a reactive state. By the nature of its design, email has become a means to respond to. We may come into work with a strong agenda and a list of tasks to get done for the day. We may enter the doors of our offices with the best of intentions to be highly productive and efficient and leave for the day feeling like we accomplished something. But fear not, Mr. Eager, for email won’t let that happen! Email, with its never-ending feed, will pull you away from your most important tasks.

Email’s seeming urgency fools us all into thinking that it must take priority. We drop everything else or everything we had planned to address our inboxes. Before we know it, the day is over and we look back to see that we didn’t really accomplish much. If this email scouring fills up the entirety of our day, we aren’t going to progress and we aren’t going to build on our careers. Instead of taking one step forward, we are taking four steps back. As I mentioned before, if your job is to go through emails and that is your primary responsibility, then go at it! But if this isn’t the case, it’s important for us to reassess how we are allocating our time.

We all have great ideas and wonderful dreams that are very possible to fulfill. But if we let our inboxes dictate how we are spending our days, those ideas and dreams will likely never materialize. While it is important to answer email from time to time, it’s crucial for us to set aside time away from email and focus on the things that matter. If we are able to do that, we will likely accomplish more than we ever thought possible.

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