Home Blog Personal Development

Attention: You Are Wasting Your Life Away on Emails and Social Media

Nathan Brooks
4 min read
Attention: You Are Wasting Your Life Away on Emails and Social Media

You know the email habit.

The morning of this writing, I had about 47 new emails in my inbox that had literally nothing to do with anything I’m working on. So I went on a rampage. There wasn’t a single one of those emails and the companies who sent them that stayed in my inbox. Good riddance.

I talk to my team all the time about where their focus is. I’m not great on tracking loads of data, and I don’t have the specifics for this either, but I bet I spend hours a week opening, looking at, and deleting junk emails. So I finally took the natural next step and Googled, “How much time do people spend opening and reading emails?”

McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp. report from 2011 (I couldn’t find one that had more clear and specific data than this one) stated email was the “second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to ‘role-specific tasks.'” And that time equaled more than two hours a day of wasted productivity time.

WHAT!? Did you get the dry heaves, too?

Can you imagine for a second that you are basically spending a fourth of every single work day on your email?

A whole additional factor is social media and television. A report from 2018 by Nielson says that Americans spend more than 11 hours a day watching screens. That means that the average American is literally spending almost half their entire day watching, messing with, wandering through social media, gaming, and whatever else.

Related: I Took a Break From Social Media for 30 Days: Here’s What I Learned

Have you thought about the influences you are allowing into your life? What are you looking at on your cell phone? On your tablet? What television programs are you watching?

All of this is shaping you in a way you may or may not be realizing. Taking time to think about this problem can only end up with one honest response: This is too much.

tax mistake

Stop Binging on Facebook, Instagram & Other Social Media

I use social media for my business, and it is useful to share stories of what we are doing. I also like it for connecting with old friends and seeing colleagues succeeding and getting after it. But I know that social media is a dangerous stealer of my time. My computer is set up with the Crome blocker to not show the Facebook feed, but rather only pull up the business accounts, check on certain people I want to pull up and review, and then close. It has worked pretty well. I also know if I’m honest, I can do a lot better .

At home, we have talked about initiating non-cell phone time in our household, especially in the evening for our family time. It’s so easy to get sucked into the endless scroll of images and comments, but what is that time being spent on? Most of the time, nothing of consequence.

Have you ever looked over and half or all of your family is on a device? I have a personal feeling of sadness when I see this. A reminder that life is not supposed to be on a screen. It is supposed to be lived and shared doing and experiencing things you love to do and love to do with others.

Delete Every Single Spam Email and Unsubscribe

Don’t accept the mayhem anymore. If you don’t actually have something very specific you need or use from that company or organization, then unsubscribe and delete it. That goes for the Gap, Cabela’s, Amazon, or anything else. All those emails are there to distract you, make you think you need something you don’t, and waste your time and money.

If you have thousands of these emails unread in your inbox, seriously consider deleting the entire account and starting a new one. Don’t sign up for them again. Don’t subscribe. Reserve your inbox for the things and companies you are actively interacting with, learning from, and that you are honestly reviewing on a daily or weekly basis.

Carefully Decide Who You Do Follow on Social Media

I can’t urge you enough to start deleting and unfollowing people. I’m not going to suggest you go social media free, although I do think breaks are very healthy. However, I do suggest that you protect what you view very carefully. For me personally, if you are someone who is negative or whiny, you are gone. I don’t want negative influences in my life. Period.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have friends with differing views, but it does mean if there isn’t proper and reasonable discourse, fire them. Move on. There is nothing positive about these kinds of people putting negativity into the world, even if it’s your own friends, family, or co-workers. It’s not worth your sanity or time.

It’s also time to cut out unhealthy inputs like racy photos, far out political views, and extreme ideology. Again, I am all about conversations with different minded people, but it’s worth it to eliminate bad information and ideas. These ideas take shape and mold our minds and spirits.


Calendar Screen and Email Time

Want to watch your favorite shows? Cool. Spend time checking out social media posts and pictures, all good in moderation. Make sure you have that time written down and know what you are expecting to work on and get out of that time.

Don’t just randomly go about your day without having these blocks pre-planned out.

Within your email habits and use, there are many books and articles about batching email. Put email checking and responding time on your calendar as well. My suggestion is to have a morning, after lunch, and workday end check. Review the inbox, delete and unsubscribe from anything you aren’t actively using. And then make a list of tasks that you need to do from your email, and work offline to complete them.

Related: How Much is Your Time Worth? Here’s How to Calculate it (& Up Your Value!)

Final Thoughts

It’s time to start giving real thought to the time you are spending. So many people hope to change their lives, whether that’s making more money, getting to the gym, losing weight, or having better relationships.

Spending half your time on your phone, social media, and television will not help you with that. It’s a massive time suck and something that’s likely impacting you negatively

Instead, take action and hold yourself accountable for how you spend time.

blog ads 02

How are you changing your habits to be more happy and productive in your life?

Comment below!

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.