Avoiding Email: Do the Hard Stuff Instead

I recently heard from a listener asking me how to check email less often. I often get email like this. Indeed, I get this question so frequently that I’d like to answer it with a short series of posts on avoiding email. I have some expertise in dealing with email precisely because I’ve made all the mistakes myself.

One of the initial things you must consider with email is whether you’re using it to avoid doing the hard stuff.

Email is ever-present and it multiplies!. The more email you send, the more you get back. It can become a hamster wheel that never stops. In the abstract, we think of that as a bad thing, but what if getting off the wheel means you’ll be faced with some really hard work? Isn’t it easier just to keep running on the wheel and dreaming of cheese?

We like to complain about email, but it’s easier than many other things. The stakes are usually pretty low, and you can spend days and weeks on it without having to confront the hard stuff. I’m not saying you’d do this intentionally, but the easy path is so much less work.

You can check your email, maybe send a few replies, and feel like you’re getting something done while finding a great excuse to skip the hard work. You need to be honest with yourself about that, particularly if you find yourself checking frequently without good reason. It’s a one way that rebellious organ between your ears avoids doing more work. In that case, you’ll need to take steps. The blissful misery of email is not going to make a difference for you. It’s not going to get you the promotion, close the deal, or make progress on you big thing. The hard stuff, while difficult, is what matters.