Weekly Poll: Do You Check Work Mails on Your Mobile?

When I got my first phone with a data-plan, about four years ago, I used every online feature I could: watching videos, checking Facebook, reading news, keeping up with RSS and so on. (Amazing how tame that list sounds when you consider what phones do now.) I also had all my email accounts set to check for new messages every thirty minutes, during the daytime, and notify me upon any arrivals.

Since then, instant email notifications have become ubiquitous – no need for the app to manually check the inbox every X minutes – and I’ve gained a couple of new accounts. For a long time, I had all my accounts set to alert me as soon as a new email came in, because it felt like the natural thing to do. But one day, my phone broke, and I was without email notifications for a little while.

Wow, that felt liberating.

I’ve since realised that there’s no need for me to be instantly up-to-date with every single note that hits my inbox. What’s more, the constant dings of notifications are a huge drain on my productivity. Oh sure, it feels like I’m only losing 30 seconds to check what’s been sent, but it so often leads to 30 minutes of writing replies, chasing up old emails, heading over to news sites… and even on the occasions where it does only take a moment, that’s still enough to break me out of flow.

As if those reasons weren’t enough, I found that, being self-employed, having these emails on all day long made me feel like I was at work all day long. That’s perhaps a useful mindset when starting a business, but it’ll drive you crazy after a while.

The only exceptions I’ll allow myself to make are in emergency situations, like when gearing up for a big launch, or attempting to fix a high-priority bug, or waiting for confirmation of something very important. Otherwise, work emails stay on the computer.

How about you?