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Email is Not the Problem – You Are

Email is Not the Problem – You Are

Can you count the hours you spent on emails this month? How about this week, or even today? I’m pretty sure you can’t.

In the maelstrom of our office and personal life, email has become a cornerstone of our daily activity for good and bad. Spending countless hours checking email has become a habit ingrained in our subconscious. Checking and managing email has the potential to become a sinkhole for just about anyone.

In 2013, the typical corporate email user sends and receives an estimate of 115 emails; that’s roughly 2.5 hours every day spent only on writing them. That doesn’t leave the “typical corporate email user” much time to do anything else and is why we must learn how to process email better.

“Our biggest job is to define what our work is.” Peter Drucker

Keep in mind that email is just a tool for doing your job; it’s not meant to replace your job specs and objectives.

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Measuring and monitoring your email habits will bring much needed structure, and since we’re dealing with a considerable chunk of your day, it will also raise your productivity.

We might start with the best of intentions, but unless we deal with some “hidden” forces, the battle won’t be won. There are a few things that you need to know about your email habits — things that aren’t entirely within your control…

Force number #1: Our lizard brain

There’s a part of our brain that always strives for perfection. It drives meticulous behaviors and ultimately, makes us waste disproportionate amounts of time on tasks that are sometimes trivial in nature — our lizard brain.

“The lizard brain is on high alert to make sure that everything is okay. The lizard brain can’t rest until it knows that everyone likes us, that no one is offended, that all graphs are ticking up and to the right, and the future is assured. But of course, the future (and the present) isn’t perfect. It can’t be.” Seth Godin

By the way, that’s why we mark emails as unread. We want the conditions to be perfect when we open our email, and “the here and now” is never perfect, so maybe later. Try to understand, the conditions will never be perfect, so you’ll have to make things work for you. That’s why you should never open an email, and mark it “unread;” make sure you only touch it once and process it (coming to you from the GTD Master – David Allen).

Force Number #2: FOMO – Fear of missing out

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a behavior we’ve cultivated through years of evolution. Evolution, through natural selection, preferred the “FOMO gene” and pushed it up the ladder because a hunter-gatherer with FOMO is a better hunter-gatherer. Curiosity and a need to reap as many rewards as possible brought us to this point in time but, alas, nowadays, FOMO doesn’t serve us as well.

FOMO is one of the major reasons we open emails the second we receive them. Our Smartphones (or perhaps I should call them something else…) even help distract us with sounds and flashing lights each time a new email or text message arrives. Yes…text messages are just another form of email — the name doesn’t trick me.

Sure, you’re probably telling yourself that it’s just your way of managing your tasks better. But you fail to realize that you are managing nothing! Your emails and texts are managing you! This may be a key driver in missing deadlines, failing to set priorities, and not completing tasks, which ultimately may prevent you from sleeping well at night, i.e. the Zeigarnik effect.

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That’s why you need to schedule opening emails during a designated time frame and no more than two to three times per day.

Force number #3: Depression

Yes, I said it…Depression. A study published on 2011 by Sriram Chellappan from the Missouri University of Science and Technology suggests that people suffering from depression engage in a very high level of email usage.

“Study participants with depressive symptoms tended to engage in very high e-mail usage. This perhaps was to be expected: research by the psychologists Janet Morahan-Martin and Phyllis Schumacher has shown that frequent checking of e-mail may relate to high levels of anxiety, which itself correlates with depressive symptoms.” Sriram Chellappan NYTimes 06/12.

This doesn’t mean that if you spend hours upon hours on emails, you’re suffering from depression; it means that people who are suffering from depression tend to spend more time on emails. Why? Because you may be looking for ways to lift your spirit, and your brain remembers how to occupy you in pursuit of online happiness.

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To make things worse, we also find ourselves nowadays surrounded by environmental forces influencing our ability to process emails, like increased email consumption via mobile, which prolongs the amount of time we spend on emails.

Add to the mix an unsatisfied lizard brain, a FOMO tendency, and the above mentioned Zeigarnik effect and you get one depressive concoction that makes things worse for people who already suffer from depression, so be aware.

Historical statistics show that the amount of emails we process on a daily basis is only going to increase as technology progresses, challenging us both physically and mentally. Preparing ourselves and learning about ways to process emails more efficiently and in a more organized way is a must if we want to be more productive!

More by this author

Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 23, 2021

10 Best Free Job Apps You Need For Effective Job Hunting

10 Best Free Job Apps You Need For Effective Job Hunting

Seeking for the right job but not sure how to do it in a more effective way?

Try job search apps!

To make the job hunting process easier, I’m recommending 10 best job apps that can help you look for the right match anywhere at any time. The best of all? They’re all free!

1. jobandtalent

jobandtalent

    Great for browsing new jobs as you commute home via subway, bus or carpool, the jobandtalent app is like a Pinterest for job seekers.

    Easily browse, save and revisit job postings from your smartphone and receive notifications about jobs that match your professional qualifications.

    Download it for iOS and Android.

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    2. Jobr

    jobr

      This job hunting app is unique in that it lets you anonymously browse job listings based on your professional resume. If a company that you like also shows an interest in you, the app let’s you chat directly with a company rep. Great for getting your foot in the door and making a memorable impression.

      Download it for iOS.

      3. Monster Job Search

      monster job search

        I’m a big fan of Monster. It’s one of the first job sites employers think of when they want to list a new position online. The Monster Job Search app functions pretty similarly to the normal website, so it’s very easy to use for not-so-tech-savvy job hunters.

        Download it for iOS and Android.

        4. Jobs and Career Search

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        job and career search

          This is a good, simple app for browsing global locations for your next job. With a job index of more than 50,000 jobs listed globally, this app is a good choice if you are moving to a new area and want to line a new job up quickly.

          Download it for iOS.

          5. Hyper Networking Groups

          hyper networking groups

            This job hunting app isn’t so much a job hunting app as it is a connections hunting app. It’s great for learning who’s who in your desired field and forming connections. It also shows you how you and your industry connections are connected via your social networks, so you can follow up with them on your other social sites.

            Download it for iOS.

            6. CardDrop

            CardDrop

              CardDrop is an awesome job hunting app that let’s you digitally drop and pick up virtual business cards. This app is great for helping you make new connections at seminars, interviews, meetings and conferences. You can also attach social media profiles to the cards you pick up or send to enable easier connecting on social networks.

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              Download it for Android and iOS.

              7. Job Interview Questions

              interview questions both

                Okay, so this app looks kind of outdated, but it’s super useful for getting you into the swing of answering any kind of interview question that is thrown your way. The big benefit of using this app is that it explains to you what your interviewers motivations might be for asking you a specific kind of question. Learn what your interviewer is looking for in your answers and be more prepared for the real interview when the time comes.

                Download it for Android.

                8. 101 Interview Questions and Answers

                101 both

                  This app is great because it provides guidance about the kinds of answers you should give for each kind of question. Think of it as an essay rubric but for job interview questions.

                  Download it for Android.

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                  9. Job Interview Question-Answer

                  q and a

                    Feeling confident with your text-answered interview questions but concerned about doing the face-to-face interview? This app prepares you for interacting with your interviewer by simulating an employer asking you questions.

                    You can record your response and see what you look like to the interviewer to understand what movements, vocal pauses, etc. you need to work on.

                    Download this app for iOS and Android.

                    10. HireVue

                    hirevue

                      HireVue is a great job hunting app for those times when your interviewer wants to get some preliminary questions out of the way.

                      When an interested employer wants to interview you, they send you a request via HireVue and you can answer it in your free time, when you’re ready. Your interview might consist of a some FaceTime, some multiple choice questions or open-ended text answers and can be completed and sent to the interviewer when you’re finish.

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                      Download it for Android and iOS.

                      Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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