Always On the Clock – “Personal” Email

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I finally did it.  I  addressed that one of my jobs requires me to use my personal email.  And that makes it not really my “personal” email anymore.

And yes, that photo is my phone RIGHT NOW.

It’s always bugged me, so why I has it taken me so long to do something about it?  I can’t answer that.  But I finally fixed it!

The Problem:

As I said, work requires me to use my personal email.  They don’t want to pay to get everyone in the company a company email (which I found a bit crazy, because of privacy and hacking issues, but.. whatever).

I will backup and say they don’t send me THAT many emails.  But when they do, it’s almost always something that is going to mentally distract me in some manner or another.  Distracting enough, often, to the point that, because I’m “type A,” I have to just deal with it so I don’t spend the rest of the day or weekend thinking about it.

It has bothered me to no end that when I’m trying to stay on top of my inbox (I am GOOD about this.. ) by reviewing emails and making sure nothing PERSONAL I have to address comes up that a work email will creep in here and there.

The thing is, it’s not even the content of the email that is a problem for me.  It’s simply knowing that I got the email from work.  I never know if it is something that I am going to want to address or if it is addressing an issue that has been going on.

I am distracted from whatever I am doing or being with my family by simply wondering what the hell they could be emailing me about.  This might actually be made worse by the fact that I don’t often get emails, because if they bothered to email it’s probably something I am going to have to read or address at some point.

The WORST is when I have to reach out and am expecting an answer on something, especially if it’s something stressful to address (like employee issues).  A small bit my mental energies are probably already running in the background towards whatever the work issue is, which is bad enough.

Me thinking about work when I’m off is really my problem.  I need to be better about turning it off but I can’t.  If there’s a problem of some kind going on I often can’t devote any mental energy to it until I’m off because I’m so busy and keeping busy multitasking at work.  I’ve often, literally, got like 3 different conversations going at one moment.  That leaves little time to focus on anything other than the immediate task at hand.

Then if I get an answer when I’m off, forget about it!  It becomes my focus for the next few hours.  My husband will be visibly annoyed at my sudden intense focus on my phone (because, it’s not like I look at our power bill that way)…  Then the annoyance becomes even more noticeable as I have to stop what I’m doing to start to respond… even though I almost never actually hit SEND until hours later or the next day because I don’t want them to think that I will answer right away.

So how silly does that make me? I devote that much mental energy and attention to thinking about something I’m not even going to respond to right away.  I know, IT’S CRAZY!

So, I finally made a new personal email, only for that job.

I have no idea why it took me this long to do this.

I have no idea why the comment thread on twitter talking about a news article with tag of “CEO says she measures candidates’ responsiveness by texting them at odd hours on the weekends” lit the fire.

I have been trying to focus more on ways that life and my habits effect my happiness and how “present” I am.  I guess I just took this opportunity to recognize that instead of being annoyed about my situation I could easily change it.  And take back my mental space on my days off.

I reconfigured the email in a few ways.  1. I set in on manual fetch, so it will only grab emails when I log in to the inbox (or all inboxes).  I also removed the (new) work email from the list of displayed inboxes and turned off badge notifications, so it won’t show me that there is a new email.

This will require me to use my email a little bit differently as I am in the habit of using the “all inboxes” folder.  I had to remove the all inboxes from the display too.  Now I will have to open individual inboxes I wish to check, which may be an extra set of steps I don’t like in keeping my working to keep my inbox empty.

Here are two links to ways I adjusted my phone settings if you want a walk through:

Who knows, maybe the step of not viewing all the inboxes will keep my from feeling like I need to review everything and delete all the junk.  It’s not like I address or respond to things I need to right away, I just leave them there once opened.

No promises I’ll be perfect, but it’s a first step.

It’s another step to fight job dissatisfaction and burnout too.  Me time should be me time.  The less I think about work on my days off the better.

I know mindfulness is a buzzword.. and seriously I would have to google it to get you an exact definition.  But, I think this might be a small part to working on my personal mindfulness practice.  What things are good for me and what aren’t?  Is technology hindering or improving my life?  What actions can I take now, especially in baby steps to improve my happiness?

Do you get your work email on your personal phone?

Even if you’ve got a dedicated “work email” do you get those emails on your personal phone?  How many times on your off time do those work emails creep into your personal time.

How much is this interfering with your headspace and ability to enjoy your time away from work?

Maybe it’s time to rethink your inbox settings and reduce distractions that are increasing stress and decreasing your level of happiness and satisfaction.

As much as we seem to be required to “always be on” with cell phones, text messages and emails, we can try to retake our personal space.  We can set boundaries.  It’s hard, but I’m working on it.

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Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.

4 thoughts on “Always On the Clock – “Personal” Email”

  1. This is definitely a way to put mindfulness into practice! Being thoughtful and intentional about your time and mental space. This is a really awesome tip, anyone in a similar situation should consider doing exactly this. And this is also why I refuse to add our email app on my personal phone, even though it would make work days slightly easier. It would become a constant reminder and take up a tiny bit of mental bandwidth on evenings and days off. No thanks.

    1. That Frugal Pharmacist

      I posted a long reply through my phone and.. into space it went never to return.

      Glad to hear you were proactive about this problem for yourself. In my case, I wanted to get the emails when I was interviewing with the company.. and then it just kept being my contact for all things work related. At least I finally realized I didn’t have to keep it that way.

      It’s funny how these things with technology go. It is convenient and improves our speed etc. But in the end, I often wonder how much better off all this is making us. I just read Mr. Money Moustache post on hedonic adaptation, and to take it an extreme (not that I would be the first), are we really that better off than we were before all this tech came out? By better I mean happier. Anxiety and depression are rampant and only getting worse especially among young people who never have known a time when they or their parents weren’t “plugged in.” I have a terrible time trying to sit still with no tech unless I’m actively engaged in an activity. Ultimately, I’m trying to set a better example for my child. Kids really making you notice your weak points.

  2. I currently do not get work emails sent to my personal phone and have no intention on doing it.

    Like you said, separate “me time” from work.


    1. It’s such a trap! Once you start you can’t go back.

      I have never done it for corporate jobs (then they just text you instead- which has made me consider saying I don’t have or cancelled my cell phone).

      But for this job, for anything personal they required personal email and refused to give me a corporate one.

      Being a manager, and having personnel issues to deal with and any other number of things that I didn’t want EVERY staff member to know, I had to do it.

      They just had a single email for the whole store. I hated it.

      Looking back, now that gone, further shows what a bad company this was. Note to not respect my reasons for wanting a personal email “no other manager needs one” (well maybe they suck and are doing bare minimum jobs and letting employees do whatever- or – oh yeah- you allow the old male managers to handle things and hire and fire and I had to get all approval through corporate, etc. Of course they may not need a private email if they have some autonomy to do their damn jobs). Sorry- letting those old frustrations boil through.

      But good for you on keeping work and life separate. I’ll be more mindful of it in the future.

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