Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unplug Your Life — Starting with Emails

I'm always a sucker for new productivity apps for the iPhone or iPad — some of them I stick with, while others end up in some miscellaneous folder fives pages back on my phone. Well last week, a new email client called Sparrow was released. Initially, I knew this was something I absolutely didn't need. Email on my iPhone works just fine, how could this be any better? So I ignored it, and even fought off the temptation to just try it out when Apple decided to feature it as its App of the Week in the AppStore.

But a couple of days later, I came across an article on my Twitter feed about why you should try out this new email app and forget about push notifications. One caveat why I didn't download the mail app right away is that it doesn't support push notifications yet, meaning the only way to check your email is to open the app and let it refresh. But the article, which I ready at LifeHacker.com, really hit home. How many times have I been walking to work, having dinner with Erin, trying to pay attention in a work meeting, or wherever, and I feel my phone vibrate and it's an email from AT&T or Groupon or a Facebook notification. After seriously thinking about it, you begin to realize how much time is actually wasted scanning junk emails throughout the course of the day. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Stop worrying whether your pocket buzzes the instant a new email arrives. You shouldn't let it do this anyway. Check your email in batches. Schedule in your email time. Do it as often as your job requires. Once an hour is probably more than enough for most of us. Better yet, make it twice a day if possible. Respond thoughtfully, when your time and energy is focused specifically on checking and answering email.
Now you might think that it takes two seconds to just see it, delete it and move on, but it adds up (I'm pretty diligent about deleting emails and not letting things build up).  For instance, I can pretty much assume that I'll have at least 10-15 emails waiting in my inbox each morning from Groupon, Living Social, Gap or Banana Republic — even the NCAA has been spamming me this week to make sure I watch the Final Four.

Don't worry NCAA, I'm a sports fan, I'll be watching the games, even though my brackets were busted after the second day of the tournament.

While there might be the occasional Groupon or Living Social deal I want to check out and maybe even buy, I don't really need to waste time deleting junk every morning. Those emails continue throughout the day and I truly believe it takes away from being productive. I've made a point of not installing my work email on my phone so I won't worry about it after hours.

So after reading and soaking in that article, I decided to buy the app. And I have to say, I really like it. So here's my free plug to Sparrow — if you're tired of your email on your iPhone and want to try it, I think it's still 99¢, which is a steal. Now I only check my email at specific times and it feels really good! And when I get something important, I can actually take the time and thoughtfully respond. It works out for everyone.

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