We Were Born Free, and Everywhere We Are in Email Chains

Thanks to technology, we have habits no previous generation has ever had. You probably wake up in the morning and pick up your cell phone first thing. You check your emails before you brush your teeth. You sit down at your desk in the office and check your emails before you check your to-do list. You hear a chime and look at your phone and check your emails in the middle of a contract you’ve been drafting for the last hour. You think there’s got to be a better way. And there is. Now, I don’t yearn for the way things once were – paper letters are, increasingly, welcome curiosities in this modern age. Work-by-email is a miserable form of existence. Emails create the impression of urgency but, often, without the importance. And there is a difference between what is urgent and important. Your to-do list can be decided intentionally, not dictated by companies whose well-being depends on your addicted habits to their devices. So give yourself licence to break free from the chains.

Wake up and refuse to check your emails. Calmly enter your day with your own thoughts. Come into work, sit down, and think about what you want to do first. And when the time comes – based on your choice, not as a response to a beeping stimuli, check your email. Consider scheduling a time to check emails – 10am? 2pm? 5pm? And then be done with it. The always-on technology does not mean you must always be on, a recipe for disaster. Take a break from the tech and take hold of the reins. For we are inspired from the great Jean-Jacques Rousseau: we confess our addiction to email, and we throw away the chains.

Ian Hu (@IanHuLawpro)

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