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The One Change I Think You Should Make in the New Year | Friday Chatter

December 28, 2018

How in the world is it FRIDAY?! I feel like I just got home, and I’ve been here just about a week! We have had so much fun, celebrating the season with baking, snuggling Sophie, and playing plenty of Hallmark Channel Bingo. Now, we’re in the week between Christmas and New Year where no one really knows what day of the week it is (and just yesterday, I realized that it was about time to put together a post for this week’s #FridayChatter!). Can anyone else relate? It has felt so good to slow down a little bit!

I feel like this is a week for a lot of reflection on the year past and a lot of goal and intention setting for the year ahead. If you were struggling to come up with a New Years Resolution or goal, I wanted to give you a little inspiration today. Today’s post is something that I have recently become pretty passionate about because it made a huge difference in my own life! If I were to choose something for you to try, THIS is the number one change I think you should make in the New Year.

Shall we dive in?

Before we move any further with this post, I just want you to take a moment to make a mental note about how it feels to receive certain emails on your phone… how do you feel when a spam or sale-sy email comes through? How do you feel when you get an inquiry email? Email from a current client? What emotions does an email from a potential client letting you know they are going in another direction bring on ? Now, do these feelings impact your day? How so? How much time do you spend in your email app and when do you find yourself opening up your Gmail or Mail apps? I know for me, email was having a HUGE impact on my mood. When I received an inquiry, I felt like I had to race home to get to it. When I got an email from a current client with a question, it was the same thing. I was always on edge and felt like email was ruling my life… I really didn’t love it.

Recently, I’ve been fighting to create more work-life balance in my life, and I realized that by keeping Gmail on my phone, I was literally encouraging myself to work around the clock. Family dinner? Gotta check email before and after. Waiting in line at the grocery store? Might as well see if there is anything I need to take care of when I’m home. Walking home from somewhere in the city? Email. Waiting for a friend to arrive at happy hour? Email. Watching TV at the end of the day? Email. 4:30AM from bed when I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep? I guess I could check my email. Can anyone else relate?

The Gmail app became more of a habit than anything else, and one day, I decided that it was about time I broke it. In fact, I decided to delete the app from a crosswalk in the middle of the city as I was checking my email. Yup… I think that is case & point right there y’all!

In 2019, I think you should take all emails, especially business emails, off of your personal phone.

I recently posted on Instagram about how I had removed Gmail from my phone, and I was SO surprised (and a little bit sad) about the flood comments that I received. These are just a few direct quotes from real people about their relationship with email on their phone:

“I might need to make this change too! I’m definitely addicted to checking email on my phone!”
“Wow! This is awesome!! I like the idea, but I don’t know if I’d ever be able to do that!”
“This is pretty amazing!!! Don’t know if we could take the leap.”

My first response was: Oh, I WISH they knew how good it is on the other side! My second: WHY?! I could tell from the gist of their comments that email is impacting their personal life, and that definitely calls for some changes to be made!

You see… as small business owners, our lives will never be normal! We created our businesses from the ground up and invested so much time, love and often financial resources into them. Taking any time away from our businesses? It feels near impossible! Well… I am slowly learning that you DO need to make business and life boundaries and that it feels GOOD to have more balance! As small business owners, we have the OPTION to create rules and boundaries in our own life for more balance…. so why don’t we?

For the longest time, I my personal rule was that I was not allowed to respond to business emails on my phone…. yet I always found myself opening my Gmail app! Why in the world was I opening up the app so often when I wouldn’t even be able to reply to the emails?

Today, I wanted to share THREE reasons that I recommend removing business emails from your phone (and a few hacks to help support you while you transition from your phone-email life!). As we move into the New Year, I want to encourage you to take the leap and to give yourself back the personal time you so deserve.

Emails have the power to impact your mood

I mentioned this above, but how many times have you received an email that made you feel over the moon excited? Now… how many times have you received an email that upset you a little? Maybe it was yet another email trying to sell you something or an email from a potential client letting you know they moved in another direction… whatever it is, I found that checking my inbox really had the potential to have a negative impact on my mood.

As soon as I realized that this small element of my work was having such a huge impact on my life, I knew I needed to make a big change. I’m finding that work-life balance is a huge thing that I have to continue to fight for and that it really does start with how and when I allow myself to interact with my work.

Keep yourself present during off hours and during time with friends & family

It had become a habit to log into my email app. I knew I wouldn’t be able to break without making some drastic changes! When I would check my email, I would immediately switch into work mode. I would feel like I needed to reply to emails and my wheels would start turning to prep a reply to send as soon as I was back near computer. I felt like I had to rush home if I was out and that my response was needed right then and there. If I was home and just taking some time out of the office at the end of the day, chances are, I would be booting up my computer to fire off a quick response. Email was ruling my life, and because it was having such a huge impact on my mental space, it was making it difficult for me to genuinely interact and enjoy time with my favorite people.

You should only be answering emails when you are in a position to answer them.

I’m here to let you know that, if you are replying to your emails on the go from your phone, you are probably not giving them the time, thought and care that the reply deserves. Sorry… but, it is true! I set a personal rule for myself long ago where I wasn’t allowed to answer work related emails from my phone. (There was something about the tiny buttons and condensed keyboard that lead to too many typos and myself being paranoid that something was going to go missing!)

You should only be answering emails when you are in work mode… when you have a full keyboard and spell checker… a notepad nearby for any action items… when you can easily access your calendar to input applicable appointments… when you don’t have someone on the other side of the table waiting for you to “just press send on one more thing” before you order your drinks at happy hour. Your clients deserve more thoughtful responses than something quickly fired off from the Trader Joe’s line, and you deserve the peace of mind from sending mindful emails with responses that you’ll actually remember (and weren’t distracted while writing!).

How to prepare yourself for removing email from your phone

There are so many ways to prepare yourself to make the transition from keeping email on your phone, so I definitely encourage you to make the transition work for you! With that being said, the words of wisdom that I can offer are:

  • Give yourself grace. In a world of instant, I am here to tell you that it is OKAY if certain emails are not replied to within the 60 seconds that they are sent to you. You DO need email and business hours. You DO need boundaries. You DO need time away from your inbox and away from work. You ARE a human. Your clients and those that you are meant to work with will understand that you have a life outside of your business. Let the others go! This is for sure something that I am still working on myself.
  • Input everything into a calendar that syncs between desktop and your computer. That way, if you need to check on an appointment, you won’t need the original email to confirm… It will already be on your calendar! There are typically notes sections that you can use to input notes about certain appointments, just in case you needed a little something for reference. I love Google Calendar! (I still let myself keep that app on my phone!)
  • Use a CRM or system to back up client contacts and details for access on your phone
    • I use Honeybook to manage all of my projects and client relationships. Most, if not all, of our email communication filters into the database, and I am also able to access copies of their questionnaires and contracts. I know that, if I am ever in a pinch, I can access the app to review all the necessary details. I have the app on my phone with all of the notifications turned off. I tuck it away in a folder, away from where I typically browse on my phone. I don’t use the app to get work done, but I do keep it close on hand in case there is an emergency where I need specific email! (You can get 50% off of Honeybook HERE! It is a GAME CHANGER!)Simply inputting client info into my phone as a contact at their time of booking has also really helped my peace of mind! It is something simple that you should probably already be doing. If you are not using a CRM with a phone app, Google Drive, Airtable and other online, cloud based apps with live updates could work here too!

You may be reading this post thinking: Jeez Caity… you are being REALLY dramatic about this whole email thing. But, I’m here to tell you that your life is worth living outside of work and screens. It may feel scary to make the jump at first, but the very first time you realize that you made it through a fun family dinner without so much as thinking of work, you’ll be thanking yourself!

If you’re taking on the challenge in 2019, let me know! I would love to cheer you on in your adventure!

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