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Productivity / Business Productivity

The surprising things that happened when I removed email from my phone

In this modern age our phones are amazing tools for staying connected right? But do we actually miss anything truly important when we step back from that?

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Over eight weeks ago now I did something many of us look forward to with great excitement for about six months, every two years. I got a new phone. I spent hours looking at review sites, comparing phones, comparing data costs from all the carriers, and went with my heart anyway and got a BlackBerry Classic.

But what I did after that is where this tale starts…

See, the thing I hate about getting a new phone is moving all your stuff.

There are the apps, the contacts, getting all those photos and videos saved somewhere, and of course, email.

So I took a bold step (BlackBerry aficionados are having a chuckle right now, the rest of you probably don’t get it 😉 ).

"Nothing says ‘management material’ like sending off a Reply All email at 10.30pm with the golden words sent from my iPhone"

I decided to not add my email accounts to my phone.

You heard me, it’s 2015, and I’ve decided that if you email me, I’ll get back to you when I’m at my computer – working.

Why on earth did you do that!!?? You may well ask.

Before making such an outrageous move, I thought about it long and hard, and several reasons for trialling this notion came to mind.

1. No emergencies happen over email

That’s right, they don’t. To borrow a skit from IT Crowd, if something is on fire, you really don’t email the fire brigade, you phone the emergency number for your country.

Likewise if someone has a report they urgently need you to read, need the PowerPoint presentation they forgot to save to their laptop for an important meeting, or want to borrow $50 from you for a date they’re about to go on, then the best way for them to know you have received that information is still a good old-fashioned phone call.

2. Being present

Since making the switch, I’ve never been more present in the face-to-face conversations I’m actually having, in real life. I’m more connected.

How often do you sit at a table sharing a meal and everyone is on their phone?

It’s annoying right?

And even if you’re not actively reading the messages as they come through, those alert notifications remove you from the present time, and make you wonder if your house is on fire and your wife has emailed you so you can come home and help grab photo albums …

3. Productivity

I’m someone who is easily distracted by shiny things, including flashing lights on phones that let you know you have a notification because maybe someone has sent you something that you really need to read now because you’re super important.

Yes!

External validation of worth come at me.

Since removing my emails from my phone, and actioning them when I’m at my computer working, I’m at least three times more productive than I was before. It’s so much easier to start and finish a task without your concentration being broken by that chirping phone!

Now I can appreciate that four weeks isn’t a huge sample size, but here’s what I’ve noticed in that time.

I haven’t missed anything important

Nope, not once. As someone who works in sports journalism I might get 30 to 40 media releases a day, as well as other work related emails. So far I haven’t missed a beat because, if something is urgent, guess what? The person deeming it urgent phones me.

Relationships have improved

Here’s a funny thing about humans, we crave connection. So while we’re so busy trying to stay connected, we miss the connections that are literally right in front of us. My relationship with family, friends and customers has increased dramatically since I cut the white noise from my phone.

Emails on phones are great for pretending to be important

There you go, someone finally said it. If you want to climb the corporate ladder, nothing says ‘management material’ like sending off a Reply All email at 10.30pm with the golden words sent from my iPhone at the bottom.

Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but I challenge you to pause for a moment next time you read an email on your phone and ask yourself a few questions. Such as:

  • Is it critical I know this now?
  • Do I have to reply to this now?
  • What am I missing out on in real life by reading this email right now?
  • How could it strengthen my personal relationships long term if I don’t read and reply to this email right now?

I encourage you to even try one day without email on your phone. I guarantee your family and friends will love having your undivided attention.

Oh and one last thing, the irony of buying a BlackBerry specifically for the keyboard functionality and not having emails on my phone hasn’t been lost on me!

Have you ever tried ditching email from your phone? How did having no email on phone work out for you?

Jarrod Partridge

is a sports photo-journalist from Melbourne. His work has been been published in RIDE Magazine, Bicycling Australia, The Herald Sun and The Age. In 2014 & 2015 he was recognised for his contribution to women's cycling coverage by Cycling Victoria.

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