Psychologist Thijs Launspach is a stress expert and author of the book Breeding pressure. He marvels at modern working and gives tips every week for more happiness and less stress at work. Today: Emailless Friday
You’d almost forget: it wasn’t always obvious to have email. I can remember a time when the more progressive internet users created a – free – e-mail account. Handy dude! Then you don’t have to stick stamps anymore! At the time, the somewhat more conservative web surfer waited a little longer: is that really necessary? Don’t I just have an address for physical mail?
Times have changed quite a bit in that regard. In about twenty years, e-mail has become more than mainstream and it has become an indispensable part of our lives. In our work, the inbox dictates what we work on. We check our e-mail about 77 times a working day, spend an average of three hours a day e-mailing, and in that time process an average of 126 messages, as I wrote earlier. Our personal lives are also largely handled through our digital letterbox: we email our bank, the government, insurers, our children’s school and the korfball club.
However, that is not always the case. If you’re not careful, your mailbox becomes a kind of to-do list for you, but managed by other people. The knocking sound of yet another incoming message can really upset you: what should I do now? This is especially true if you belong to the ‘inbox-zero-people’, the people who don’t know peace until there is no more new message in their inbox – quite difficult if you are subject to a constant deluge of e-mails. E-mail is therefore often at the expense of concentration and productivity, and can be a considerable source of stress.
If you’re not careful, your mailbox will become a kind of to-do list for you, but managed by other people
That is why every year in the last week of November, the mail tsunami in our lives is commemorated: next Friday it will be ‘e-mail-free Friday’ again. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not necessarily forbidden for participants to send e-mails on this day, as I read on the website.
It is the intention that you deal with e-mails more consciously on this day. Pick up the phone more often to short-circuit something. Clean up your mailbox and unsubscribe from those annoying newsletters. Turn off your mail notifications, and leave your Outlook closed for a few hours. Even if only to prove to yourself for a day that it is possible: a working day that is not completely dominated by e-mail. A world without e-mail is almost unimaginable, but we might be able to deal with it better.
Thijs Launspach is a psychologist and stress expert. He wrote the books Fokking Druk (2018), Working with millennials (2019) and Werk kan uit (2020) about this.
Do you often wait in vain for an answer when you have sent an email? Coach Charlotte van ‘t Wout knows what to do about it:
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