Dear Office Email,
Like smash-you-with-a-baseball-bat-if-you-were-a physical-object kind of hate.Whenever I see you, a fluffy little bunny dies along with a part of my soul.
We didn’t use to be like this. Once upon a time, I used to love turning you on. You were the first thing I looked at in the mornings. The emails you gave me were so new and… exciting. You helped me to learn so much, and you provided an oasis for me to escape to in the midst of a dreary cubicle prison.
The Dark Side Kicks In
But all this while, you were plotting to get me addicted. It started innocently enough. You’d encourage me to set up an alert whenever new mail came in. Those alerts were irresistible. They were impossible not to click on. You knew my weaknesses, my hunger for new and exciting information, and you exploited them well.
You made me feel important because you kept me busy – busy dealing with and organizing all that information you gave me. With you sucking up all my energy, my real work was slipping. I would take entire weeks to complete relatively simple projects. My bosses would get annoyed at me. I would skip lunch just to sift through the avalanche of mails that came pouring in every minute.
Getting a Grip with Small Tweaks
It was time to get a grip. I’ve been thinking a lot about Small Tweaks lately, and how making just tiny, one-off adjustments could have a disproportionate effect in my life.
I decided to try a couple of Tweaks out. Hell, what did I have to lose?
The first Small Tweak I did was to change the color of your unread mail from bold red to bold black. I know, it sounds stupid. But there was always something about your redness that made me panic whenever I saw it. Changing your color made me feel a whole lot calmer and a lot more in control.
The next Small Tweak I did was to turn off your alerts for new incoming mail. I now had no idea whenever new information awaited me. At first, living with that was hard. For the first couple of days, I kept trying to refresh you. But pretty soon, your allure of new information started to lose its hold on me. After 2 weeks, I didn’t care whether you had new mails for me or not, because I had better things to deal with.
And finally, I made the biggest step of all: I refused to turn you on in the mornings. After all, I’m a morning person. I made a conscious decision to spend the best part of my day where it counts: my work.
That step took a lot of courage. It was a couple of months before I could actually live without you in the mornings. But when I did, it was a breath of fresh air. I got a lot more stuff done, was less stressed, and people smiled at me more. It was a frickin’ whole new world.
Of course, there was always the risk that you might have something really urgent for me in the mornings. But I figured, if anything was that urgent, someone would give me a call. Or come over and talk to me. We didn’t need you – our lives were perfectly fine without you.
The Small Tweak Revolution
Of course, I know that I can never truly live without you. You’ll always be there, and I’ll always need you. But now, I’m no longer your slave. I’m in this relationship with you, but on my terms.
You’re probably still enslaving millions of other office professionals out there. But if I were you, I’d be really scared. Because people aren’t stupid anymore. They know that they can seize back control of their lives with a couple of simple, tiny, adjustments. We’ve got the power of Small Tweaks behind us, and we’re going to kick your ass with it.
Photo credit: Frank Gruber