Why checking email hurts creativity… a true story. Yesterday, a tragedy happened. My smart phone’s microphone went out. I couldn’t talk to anyone, and had to revert to using my not so smart phone. I was worried because my work email was not set up on it. What if someone needs to get a hold of me? What if it is urgent? Will my work life fall apart if I didn’t check my email on the hour?
Yes, I am an email addict.
In fact, I am guilty of checking my phone for emails first thing in the morning.
Even before I put on my contacts, when I am still groggy and disoriented, I will squint and reach for my cell phone to check email and make sure the world did not fall apart while I slept.
Apparently I am not alone.
According to IDC Research, 80% of smartphone users check their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up each morning.
“49% of the entire U.S. population uses a smartphone. By 2017, the percent of smartphone users is expected to reach 68%. Four out of five smartphone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. 80% of those say it’s the first thing they do in the morning.”
I guess I can take comfort in knowing I am makes me extra ambitious, since I check emails the moment I wake up. Yea… I’m that girl. The problem with checking email first thing in the morning is it clutters your brain with things that may appear urgent, but are not truly important. Checking emails hurts creativity because it puts you in a state of stress. Taking time in the morning to reflect, clear your thoughts and set your intentions for the day, not only makes your more creative, but it allows you to be more productive as well. In order for creativity to thrive, you have to have mental space.
Here is another way to look at it. Imagine if you had closet and you filled it with all kinds of junk. Boxes, clothes, hangers, shoes … you name it. Now imagine trying to find something. Just like you need space to get to all of your things easily in your closet, your brain works the same way. Creativity needs space to breath, to develop, to grow and come to life. If you clutter your brain with urgent but no important information or the ever growing “to do” list, you leave no space to create.
Since I have not been able to check my emails first thing in the morning on my phone (or Facebook, for that matter), I’ve felt more at peace. The process of waking up feels more tranquil. Upon waking up, I take a few moments to appreciate the new day, put my contacts on and get ready, grab a cup of coffee, and think about what I would like to accomplish today. I feel lighter, less stressed, and ready to face my day instead of being anxious by things I need to add to my to-do list. Yes, I still check email, but now, I only check it 3-4 times a day, not every 15 minutes.
I feel like I have room to breath again and the creative juices are flowing. I have started writing again, and am inspired to tackle new projects as well. Having downtime in our over stimulated world allows us to focus on channeling our creativity and expressing yourself in other ways, other posting an update on Facebook. And much to my surprise, my world/ work/ life did not fall apart.
Although I am about to order a new smart phone, my goal is to develop a healthy relationship with it. This time around, I will not be controlled by my email. I’ve decided the mornings are to be an “email free zone”. For the first several hours of the day, I will refocus on the important but perhaps “not so urgent” things. Creativity comes from having the mental capacity to allow for ideas to flow in and I am excited about this new journey. After all, we survived for thousands of years without emails and did just fine. A few hours “sin” email will be okay. Oh, and Facebook … you are next.
For those of you who feel the same way, try taking a “break” from email for the first few hours of the day & see how you feel. You can thank me later. =)