Personal Development

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

Expertise: Personal Development, Business Management, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Flipping Houses
125 Articles Written
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You know the email habit.

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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.

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.

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

Comment below!

Nathan Brooks is the co-founder and CEO of Bridge Turnkey Investments, a Kansas City-based company renovating and selling more than 100 turnkey prop...
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    Gordon Cuffe Investor from Roseville, CA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    yeck yes. I am tired of seeing my teenagers stare mindlessly at instagram. You just reminded me to unsubscibe to many of my incoming emails. I need to spend more time looking for off market properties in the Kansas City market for you and other investors.
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Gordon! It’s super frustrating isn’t it! I know how easy it is to get sucked into that mind numbing exercise so that’s always why it’s important to be aware of what you are doing … and protect that time by planning out the day in advance.
    Rob Cook from Powell, WY
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Could not agree with you more Nathan. 6 months ago, I deleted over 3500 Facebook Friends, in one day. And rarely make posts on Facebook these days. I have also unsubscribed to over 200 emails a day, which is still an ongoing process. I read a book on this subject, called “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, which makes a good case that social media is dumbing down most Americans. And that anyone with an attention span beyond 10 seconds, will become the sought after talent in the future. People who can focus enough to accomplish important tasks. It is an epidemic and not anywhere near peak damage done. People are losing control of their lives, and becoming addicted to all this noise and distracting manipulation, all intentionally designed by social media purveyors.
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Rob … so well said sir. Agreed on the people on facebook, and making sure you are taking control of the inputs in your life. And I haven’t read that book but it’s on the list to read. It’s like anything else … that focus requires practice and time. Working on what is important, or losing track and control of your OWN LIFE! Thanks for such a great and well thought out comment.
    Brent Thomas from Charlotte, NC
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Very powerful and 100% accurate! I’ve recently been tracking my screen time each week (well apple is) I’ve just been observing and consciously trying to lower and lower each week. As a result, I was so disgusted in my own screen time usage, I set time limits on each social media platform. It’s been a game changer! Thanks for posting,
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    This is SUCH a good idea Brent. I am going to start doing that too. Thanks for the suggestion!!
    Joshua Martin Real Estate Broker from Milwaukee, WI
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    How about reading blog posts?
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I do see the irony here Joshua. It’s definitely something I believe that involves the intention. If you are working on learning, you are reading, I think its different. But if you are just randomly around looking at random things, it’s definitely a factor. Great question!
    Allyson Straka from Allentown, Pa
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Yeah this is what I dislike about statistics regarding screen time. The statistics are pretty much stated as though we are all spending way too much senseless time looking at screens, when in fact a lot of those people may be doing productive activities. I mean, I am a programmer for a living and therefore I spend the majority of my time looking at screens yet I never touch social media. But I definitely understand the intent of such statistics and the vast majority of people could benefit from scaling back.
    Alex Franks from Rock Hill, SC
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    In October 2017 I shut off all social media. I spent a year before speaking in a lot of events. Sharing my workout ,daily thoughts ,and real estate thoughts in multiple Facebook groups. Was very active on social media and emails across the board. Then I decided to shut it all down. Folks told me I was crazy but not having a Facebook page or social media presence. It was just recently I turned on BiggerPockets. So long story short shutting down social media did not negative affect me in any way actually seem to help me focus more. Then I limit emails and phone calls to the early am hours. So this was a very refreshing blog and great information thank you. Now instead I spend more time focused on the things I want to do and accomplish in life.
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I love having the less distraction… “Not negative affect..” … and honestly probably a lot of time that you just weren’t messing with your phone or looking through stuff that didn’t make a big impact for you. Well done.
    Nathan G. Real Estate Broker from Cody, WY
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Agreed. I don’t spend much time on facebook because it’s like a drug; the more you get, the more you want. Next thing you know, an hour has gone by with nothing accomplished, nothing learned, and I feel depressed for having wasted that time. It’s much better to pick up a book. If I didn’t have social media for my business, I would dump it in a heartbeat.
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    I share that issue too Nathan (great name BTW 😉 … I am in the same boat, and we do use it a lot for business. But I still work very hard not to spend time just scrolling with no purpose.
    Alex Franks from Rock Hill, SC
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Somebody asked me for a business card one day. I said no I don’t have them. Don’t have a website ,don’t have any social media presence. Yet I still stay very busy. I used to do a lot other folks podcast. I found I can stay super busy with out it all. I think sometimes it’s based on reputation and knowledge. Yet good stuff man really good blog. Hope all is well on your Market Alex
    Linda Luo Rental Property Investor from New York, NY
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bill Boteler
    Replied 5 months ago
    I am very aware of this. I am fighting back. But I feel I am losing the war.