Why I Intentionally Deleted Email From My Phone

Yes. You read that correctly. 9 days ago, on August 29, 2011, I intentionally deleted my personal and work email accounts from my iPhone.

Still not convinced? Check out the video of me actually deleting my email accounts.

Can’t see the video? Try viewing directly on YouTube.

Why Did I Do This?

Before I answer that question, I’m curious what your initial reaction was when you read the title of this blog post or when you watched the video. Before continuing, do me a favor and write down what you were thinking (or shouting). We’ll get back to that later.

Ok, so why would I do such a thing? Blasphemy, right? I mean, my bio once read “eats, sleeps, breathes, and sometimes dreams email.” I recently started my own company – a company that helps organizations “leverage the power of events, email and social media marketing…”

I’m crazy, right?

Here’s why I did it.

First, Rachael Herrscher (Today’s Mama) dared me. In this kick ass post, 5 Reasons To Take Email Off of Your Phone. Take a minute to read her blog post first (then come back here). Ok. For those that didn’t read her post (or simply skimmed it), when Jesse Harding and I heard Rachael give her Evo ’11 Ignite talk, she mentioned that she took email off of her phone. I was sitting at the same table as Jesse at the time. I turned to him and said, “No way. That’s BS.”

As it turns out, it was true. As indicated from the title of this post, Rachel details the five reasons why you should take email off of your phone. They include:

  1. You are not present.
  2. You are addicted.
  3. You have refreshed your email while driving.
  4. You think the world needs instant access to you.
  5. You are wasting your time.

As I read through her list of 5, I found myself nodding. And nodding. And nodding. Yes to #1. Yes to #2. Yes to #3. Yes to #4. Yes to #5. As the kids say, OMG.

I was not present. I was addicted. I did check email while driving (at stop lights). I did think the world needed to have instant access to me. I was wasting my time. I want to touch briefly on the “instant access” point. Jay Baer wrote an amazing blog post recently – 6 Takeaways From 23 Years as a Consultant – where he said that speed wins. Specifically:

Whenever possible (when not on an airplane) I try to reply to emails, tweets, calls, etc. as quickly as possible. In under a minute in some cases.

I used to think that. In some ways, I still do think that. However, life is all about choices. I’m making the conscious choice to be present more often. Does that mean that I may not reply to that email immediately? Possible. Does it mean I’m not responsive? Not at all (just not as fast, always). Note: I do realize that Jay’s point is not entirely about email response time.

The Email Addiction

I’m embarrassed to admit how often I was checking email on my phone. Embarrassed. Back when I had email on my iPhone, I checked it:

1. While on a webinar.
2. In the park with my daughter and wife.
3. At stop signs / red lights.
4. While riding my bike.
5. While running.
6. While on the beach.
7. While changing a diaper.
8. While playing with my daughter.
9. While ON a phone call (one of the few “benefits” of AT&T).
10 While engaged in a conversation.
11. At dinner with other people.
12. In the bathroom.
13. The moment before I fell asleep.
14. The moment I woke up.

You get the point, right? If that’s not addiction, I’m not sure what is.

Life Without Email on My Phone

First, I’m thrilled to announce that since I deleted my email accounts from my iPhone 9 days ago, nothing terrible has happened. I’m still alive. I’m still socially connected. I’m still easy to get in touch with. I’m still responsive. When I’m out and about (away from my MacBook), I have real conversations. I look people in the eye. I’m not head down, staring at my iPhone.

I’m noticing more of the world around me. I see things that I have not in awhile. I realize that sounds odd, but when you are always buried in your phone, tapping at the screen … you are not, as Rachael wrote, present. You can’t be. I pride myself on my ability to multi-task. In some ways it’s what allows me to get more done. In (many) other ways, it causes me to miss stuff – to not be present.

Yeah, But…

This next section is what some call “objection handling.” I call it, Yeah, But…

Yeah, but…you still have Facebook and Twitter and Google and [insert app here] on you iPhone. That is true. However, I’ve found that I’m hitting those in spurts – not all of the time.

Yeah, but…you still check email all the time on your MacBook. This one came from my wife, of course. And she’s right. 100% correct. However, when I walk outside, when I go on a run, when I go to the park, when I’m changing a diaper, when I go to the pool, I don’t bring my laptop with me. Again, I’m present.

Yeah, but…you just started your own company. Don’t your clients expect you to be responsive? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that all clients have my cell phone number (if you are a client and do not have my cell, let’s change that). They can text me. They can call me.

4 Things That Suck About No Email On My Phone

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows sans email on my phone. I mean, mostly, but there are still a few things that I miss.

  1. I can’t email my wife/family pictures or videos of our daughter. This one sucks. Big time. I can text them photos & videos, but not email.
  2. There are those times when I’ve been out and someone has said, “send me a quick email?” and I haven’t been able to. Not a huge deal, but still a potential issue.
  3. Traveling: I’m typing this blog post from an airplane en route to Charlotte, NC for the Social Fresh event. (The guy next to me has been replying to emails like it’s his job (maybe it is). In the time it took me to write this section, I’m pretty sure he’s drafted 42 emails. In some ways, I’m kind of jealous. He has “less work” to do when he gets off the plane. Or does he?). There are many times where it would be awkward to pull out my 15″ MacBook Pro and start emailing. On top of that, wifi is not available everywhere (yet) and i don’t have one of those portable hotspot gadgets. I don’t have much to “report” on this one yet, but should have more in a few days – once Social Fresh is over.
  4. I can’t check email while in the bathroom. Come on! Admit it. You check your email while using the facilities. (h/t Eric Boggs).

What’s Next?

Lots of folks have asked me, what’s next? How long do you anticipate keeping email off of your iPhone? Is this permanent or just part of the challenge?

The answer: I’m not sure. The original challenge from Rachael was one week. It’s been 9 days. Will I ever put email back on my iPhone? At this point, I have no intentions to. However, I’m human. I reserve the right to change my mind.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge? Will you join me … and Rachael … and Jesse?

Do it. Video the process. Blog about it. Share in the comments below.

Finally, don’t forget to share (in the comments) what your initial reaction to the title of this blog post was. Just curious.