Email is the problem

courtesy of Microsoft clip art

Has someone ever advised you to “go with the flow,” meaning to “relax and accept a situation, without trying to alter or control it”?   These days “flow” has a different meaning, coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who has been called the “world’s leading researcher on positive psychology.”  If you’re “in a flow state” you are completely absorbed in a task or activity to the point that you lose track of time or possibly forget to eat.

According to Wikipedia, during flow, “The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Zen practitioner and writer Leo Babuta says flow leads to productivity, but not the kind where you find yourself checking off your things-to-do lists; instead, it’s the kind where you are accomplishing “important and long-lasting things.”

When I was writing my 50,000 word novel for National Novel Writing Month I did achieve a flow state.  It was a matter of necessity in order to put 1,667 words a day into complete sentences that melded into complete paragraphs that told a story (sort of).  Usually it took thirty to forty-five minutes to settle down my “monkey mind,” decide on the day’s direction, and fully concentrate. Lately I have been less able to recreate that experience and I know why: email.  Email is the problem.  I let any and all notices of email pull me out of my “trance.”

I read an article last week about a study of workplace productivity.  Researchers compared one group of workers who did not access their emails for a week to another that accessed them often.  Of course, the group freed up from the beeps or other notifications on their screens were the most productive.

Starting today email is one area where I’m not going to “go with the flow.” As soon as I read the three new messages that just landed in my inbox.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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2 Responses to Email is the problem

  1. Marilyn says:

    Checking one’s email is like river rafting an unknown course. You paddle furiously through rapids and around rocks hoping to wind up at the end of the trip: downstream. You were busy all day but what did you do?

  2. Joan Tritchler says:

    But you’re going to read my email, right? Now?

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