The Email Test

(1 min read)

Here’s a little test for you.

When you’re away from work and wrapped up in something else, the next time your email notification sound goes off on your phone, stop and notice what happens to you. What emotion pops up?

Anxiety? Joy? Wonder? Dread? Resentment? Excitement?

The email notification chime is the present-day Pavlovian Dog. The very sound elicits an immediate response in all of us, as reflexive as a dog’s drooling at the call for dinner.

This response can tell you how you view your work, your job, your entire life.

If the emotion you experience is an unwanted one, I suggest changing 2 things:

First, change your notification chime so you can give yourself a chance to create a new pattern. Then, and here’s the important part: change what you’re getting in your email box. Bear with me here…

It doesn’t have to be drastic. Just disrupt the pattern. The cool thing about email is you can design your inbox how you need it to be. I don’t mean visually redesign it – though that can help too – I mean design it by content. Those horizontal strips of content running across the screen are voices from the wishing well.

If everything speaks of task-oriented seriousness, send out a silly question to get back something whimsical.

If your email is full of obligations, request a (small) activity or piece of an activity you actually want to do.

If you’re anxious about who’s going to be in there and what they’re going to say, find another way to communicate with them, invite them in less frequently, or invite other people in more.

If all you get is work, email a friend.

Ultimately, you decide what comes in. And you decide that by what you send out. Email is one scenario in which Karma always works. Change what you ask for and you’ll change what you get back.