How to Check Email Like a Minimalist

Joshua Fields Millburn writes:

Most of us receive a multitude emails each day. It’s easy to address them one by one, filtering and sorting and replying to them as they tumble into our inboxes.

Most of the emails I receive are either positive or pointless—nice words from readers (positive) or junk mail that I do my best to filter out of my life (pointless). Thus, it’s only logical to want to check my email frequently, receiving textual praise while clearing the clutter. It’s a win-win, right? After all, who doesn’t want constant positive feedback? And who doesn’t want to feel productive?

This sounds ideal, except for one problem: we have a real lives.

You see, living in our inboxes—something I did for a long time, especially during my 12 years in the corporate world—forces us to be on edge, always seeking the next nugget of digital applause, always anticipating the next question, the next “follow-up,” the next “action item.” Worse, it keeps me away from living a fulfilling life, one that doesn’t revolve around the white glow of my computer screen.

The problem with email is that its never enough. Even when we whittle our incoming messages down to zero, we’re constantly waiting for the next ephemeral bit of good information. I call these bits “food pellets from the universe.”

Similar to a lab rat, we have trained ourselves to click that “get mail” button to receive these food pellets. Hit the lever, get the food. Hit the lever, get the food. Hit the lever, get the food.

Sometimes the food is tasty—a kind message from a friend, a thoughtful question, a hilarious link from Nicodemus. But most of the time these food pellets are filled with empty calories and they taste like cardboard.

So instead of checking my email throughout each day, I check it once a day at most, and some days I don’t check it at all.

A handful of changes in my life have made this shift possible—and far less stressful than you might think.” via The Minimalists | How to Check Email Like a Minimalist.

In addition to all this, the best advice I have for you is to put all your just in case information in Google Reader; that alone will decrease the volume of email and make it even easier for you to follow these instructions!