email is a privilege

July 22nd, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

I just had a thought that moved me, so I thought I should share it with you too.

“Email is a privilege.”

As you know from my Email Intervention*, I feel it is my personal, purpose-filled duty (or you can even call it a “public service announcement”) to help people, especially self-employed people, extract their smart phone inboxes and blackberry blinking lights from their death grip.

I have been there myself for the past four years and it has led to a life that was out of balance. My work bled into my purpose, which bled into every facet of my life. I had a career that should have felt absolutely freaking incredible. But I honestly found it just “ho-hum.”

My problem wasn’t that I was in the wrong career, it was that I wasn’t able to separate myself from my career.

Now that I have not been checking emails on nights and weekends, my feelings towards the end of the week are mixed. On the one hand, I’m excited for the fun planned over the weekend. I’m excited to spend the weekend at Mr. Lively’s apartment (we call it the cottage), learning to play the guitar. And I’m excited to celebrate my cousin’s 30th birthday. Two days off from work will be nice and relaxing.

But on the other hand, I am a bit sad that I won’t be able to see my emails and “check in” on the business. I won’t know what exciting new opportunities are coming my way, I won’t know the customer service emails we will answer on Monday. I will simply have to wait until Monday, when I get to reconnect with what is happening at Jess LC.

Though that may seem irresponsible, the truth is, no one ever asked us to work 168 hours a week. We simply worry that other’s expect that of us, and feel compelled to constantly stay in the loop. We drive ourselves to stay so “in the know” that we never have a chance to wonder, to get excited.

My inbox is a privilege I get Monday through Friday, 9-5:30. It is an amazing tool that helps me work more efficiently. It helps me grow and drive my business. But it is also a privilege of my work – not an integral part of my personal life.

So rather than steal glances at my inbox while I’m walking over to Mr. Lively’s apartment this afternoon, I’ll be thinking about the produce I want to buy at the farmers market tomorrow.

And I already can’t wait to come back to work on Monday.


* The July Email Intervention pledge class ends on Monday night. There will be a new August Email Intervention coming up shortly. I hope you’ll join me.



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  • The challenge has really been helping me. Although I haven’t been perfect, your email reminders seem to come at the right times. 🙂 I’m finding that I seem to be bored now that I’m not checking my email…I love the downtime but I’m not sure what to replace the email-checking with!

  • Kelsey, Hah, I know what you mean! I was there too. I have one word for you (said with all the love in the world): LIFE! How crazy is it that we are so used to forcing ourselves to be busy checking things like email that once we take that away, we don’t know what to do anymore?

    For me, I started to learn to play the guitar, I also cross stitch, and I enjoy the scenery more on my walks. Find a new personal hobby that is meaningful to you that you used to put off because you didn’t have enough “time.”

  • Oh yes, I need an entire Internet intervention. I’ve banned smartphones from our house for this reason, but I know that’s not possible for most businesses (still, it’s nice to leave home and be disconnected!).

  • Reading (and chickens): That’s so cool! I think with my email intervention pledge, I don’t need to worry about the “smart” aspect to my phone, it can be both depending on where/when. 🙂 Love your enthusiasm about this idea too!

  • It really is very difficult to switch yourself off — but I definitely find that email is one of many distractions that just destroys my productivity during the day. I constantly hop over to see what is happening, if there is something new, or just to distract myself — and then I spend at least 5 minutes getting back to my train of thought, or longer if there is an email I just have to answer.

    You’re absolutely right that those who manage their own businesses often feel they need to work 24/7/365. But I don’t expect that of my employees, so why should I really expect it of myself? Some sick mind trick about trying to get an edge perhaps 😉

    I’ve enjoyed your intervention and am glad to have left the inbox behind for at least a few hours each night. Now if I could just convince my husband to do the same… 😉

  • Pingback: october/november email intervention | Makeunder My Life()

  • Jess, your blog is wonderfully inspirational! I have already enjoyed it so much and I haven’t gotten through everything.

    I completely agree with you and know I have fallen into the habit of staring at my phone at any idel moment. I find that with so many people owning smartphones, it is almost expected that you will get an email right away. I have kids and I can miss important infromation like practice changes, a friend asking me to pick up her child, etc. if I don’t check in. My plenty perfect solution is to give myself check-in times, so that I am at least taking a break from checking email!