Early in my tenure at McKinsey, I once committed a terrifying blunder. In those days, every BlackBerry notification would make us stop all work and check our email.
Superfast email response was fast becoming a religion.
But one day, due to some technical glitch, my BlackBerry stopped syncing. For the next few hours, without any notifications, I was peacefully working on my PowerPoint deck.
And then I felt something was off — this was too quiet.
When I checked, I saw a flurry of unread emails. Instantly, my mind went, “Oh God! This will be a nightmare.”
I frantically cleared the email backlog, planning an apology to the frustrated and angry people whom I had slowed down.
But then it struck me — nothing had broken down. Nobody seemed frustrated or even cared. The crisis was only in my head.
Sometimes, we feel compelled to constantly check our emails and messages. Why? What if we didn’t do that for 2 hrs?
If it didn’t kill me in a client service organization, it probably won’t kill you.
Constantly checking emails comes at a heavy cost — we keep disrupting our focus, making ourselves inefficient and incapable of doing deep, focused work that can truly build our careers.
You have immense talent — bring it out through focused work. Stop wasting your life just being busy.