What I Do Every Day Before Checking Email (& Two Other New Habits)

Folks are always asking me how organized my files are.  They're pretty neat, perfect in fact.  This doesn't mean I don't have other areas of work-life that are in need of an extreme makeover.  I'm in the process of finding balance between online and offline life.  This past spring I realized that I, like many Americans, have a technology addiction.  I was waking up and walking straight to the computer like a zombie robot. I was checking email at stoplights, at dinner with friends, and in clients' bathrooms (true confessions here!).  I was turning to Facebook at the first sign of restlessness, or indecision, which seemed to be many times per hour.  The nature of my work doesn't require me to be on call 24/7.  This clearly was a compulsive habit. I'm at my happiest when hiking in the mountains, doing yoga, in the moment with a client, etc.  It's not my nature to tie myself to technology, but somehow it had happened and I didn't have a good excuse for it.

A dear friend, with monk-like willpower around technology limitations, gave me a smackdown one day and challenged me to only check email 3x/day.  That worked for about two months.  I don't consider it a failure though because with that came other habits that did last and others that have crept up since.  Here they are:

1. Since the spring I almost never, ever check email on my phone.  If I'm expecting something time sensitive (which is almost never, ever) I'll check it away from home.  If I'm away from home for more than 12 hours, I'll check it once.  Cold turkey on this is the only way to go.  I had a compulsive addiction, so to slip once is a slippery slope towards ridiculousness.

2. For the past two weeks I fix myself breakfast before checking email.  This is NOT easy, but is getting easier.  I asked myself, "Is checking email more important than nourishing myself?"  That was an easy one to answer.

3. The latest one I've implemented is Facebook-free Sundays and Wednesdays.  Hey, I'm not going to knock Facebook.  Do I need real time hourly updates of friends of friends who I've never met?  Nope.  I started with Sundays and it was so easy that I implemented the mid-week Wednesday diet as well.

I preach and teach about the power of small changes and implementing good habits.  To do this myself, in areas where I struggle, is to relate to my clients and assist them more deeply.  Now I need to work on that Pinterest addiction and getting out of bed in the morning...