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Overwhelmed with work emails? Try mindful emailing.

Mindfulness is a practice which encourages us to attend to the present moment. Mindfulness is about being aware in the present without judgement about what we notice. Often our minds are focused on the past or future – we can find ourselves ruminating about the past (usually negative thoughts) or worrying about the future – both may spiral us into a less joyful way of being.

One way to practice mindfulness in the workplace is how we mindfully manage our emails. Email addiction and overload are becoming more prevalent. By constantly checking or being notified of our emails – we are constantly interrupted – and sometimes mindlessly engaging. Here are four ideas about ensuring email effectiveness by Mindful Emailing:

1. Notice when you are most productive

For many people – the mornings are when we are most alert, focused and creative. How do you spend the mornings? If you check your emails first – what tends to happen? Do you lose your focus or energy – particularly if there are problems to solve?

2. Focus-time

By knowing when you are most productive and least productive – you can map (wherever possible) your daily schedule to coincide. If you are checking and responding to emails all day – you are not fully focused on your work due to the constant interruptions… every new email shifts your focus – and drives the email addiction… you are not mindfully engaged in the present – but anticipating what next… that can be addictive.

 3. Checking-in Time

This brings us neatly to Checking-In Time – this is scheduling your email time. Depending on your job – you can assess when can be good check-in times. For example – if you start at 8am and finish at 4.30pm – you may start with 3 check-ins per day for 30minutes: 9am, 11.30am and 4pm. Once you have trialled this – you may need to add a short burst of check-in time – or deduct. However what is needed is a strict discipline around the time you allocate – otherwise, it will be back to the drip of all day emails…

4. Switch off all notifications

Email addiction and overload are becoming more widespread… one idea is to switch off all notifications. If you keep the Checking-In Times this can help. You can also try this with your mobile and other devices.

Why not experiment with this for the next 3 days?

Keep a simple journal to record your response at the end of each day: What did you notice?

Pay attention to your productivity and well-being and note this down. Also, note how you felt and include any feedback from others if applicable. At the end of the 3rd day – you may want to continue this trial for a few more days – or revert back to your usual practice. Whichever you choose – we encourage to note down what you noticed. After that, you can make an informed (mindful) choice of what works best for you. Happy emailing!