I deleted email from my phone

A person deleting the email app from their phone

Last year, like many during the pandemic, I became even more addicted to social media.

After reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and watching The Social Dilemma, I deleted my Instagram—which up until that point was my favorite.

My fears were that I would become disconnected from my circles, that I wouldn’t be able to share my funny ideas, and that my creations wouldn’t get noticed.

After two days, I was stunned to find I was still alive.

Not only that, but I felt like I was thriving. My mind felt decluttered. I had no choice but to only focus on the actual world around me.

I won’t drone on about the pros and cons of social media and modern technology. Instead, I’d like to briefly discuss how my phone addiction manifested itself in my life once again.

Email.

Over the past year, I’ve grown my own business. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done (and continue to do). But along with such a feat have come all the usual entrepreneurial tropes.

Workaholism. Burnout. Being glued to my phone.

Today’s blog is about that last one. After quitting Instagram, it felt like there was an energy that needed to be exerted. For several months, I would let this energy out by reading, playing chess, or talking to a friend.

But once my business became even a tiny bit established, I found myself checking email and Facebook Messenger every three minutes or so.

I would check Gmail between every set at the gym. It was like opening the fridge to see if there’s any food moments after we just did that same thing.

The more successful I became, the more entrenched in these apps I felt. Until last week, I had to ask myself a question.

“Why do you absolutely need to check your email?”

Not want. Not feel strongly that you should. NEED.

100% of the time, the answer has been the same: I don’t.

So as the title of this blog states, I deleted Gmail from my phone.

Lo and behold, the world seems to be running fine. I have all my limbs and my friends are still alive.

I now check my email once (sometimes twice) a day on my computer. There have been zero fires to put out and not a single person has noticed.

The caveat here is that I work for myself and people are rarely relying on me to respond to them quickly. But I challenge anyone to set up a two-check boundary for email and see if anyone actually notices.

I look to Tim Ferriss’s quote:

“Email is a very convenient way of simulating forward motion without actually accomplishing anything.”

The next time we rush to check {insert favorite app here}, it may help to ask these questions first:

  1. Do I absolutely need to check this right now?
  2. What specifically am I trying to accomplish by checking this? (i.e. Am I just looking for an easy distraction?)
  3. What if this can wait?

To many, this may sound elementary. But these last few days without having something to compulsively check have felt euphoric.

It’s been the mind-equivalent to selling half my stuff and decluttering my home.