There’s a new habit in our info-life. A stop on our way to lala land every night. Our Inbox.
Sometimes, it’s a computer on a desk. Others, it’s your iPhone by the bedpost. Any device will deliver your email, a constant string of welcome and unwelcome chatter. And your curiosity kills you, just like a kid watching the post man stuff the mail box. You can’t help but check it over and over again all the day long.
And right before you go to bed, just before you brush your teeth or tuck in the kids, you steal a glance at your Inbox. You just can’t help yourself. In most cases, the chatter is innocuous. In the rarest of cases, something needs your attention before the next morning. And I mean, rare.
But then there’s the monthly or quarterly sleep killer that never fails to show up: An email that pisses you off. Maybe someone has been sipping and sending, being curt when they should be kind. You read the note, wonder, “why would he say that to me!?” and either tap back a salvo or trudge off to bed to mutter to yourself. You rehearse how you are going to tell her off tomorrow.
It sneaks into your sleep psyche too, sometimes your dreams. You complain to your partner or friends at the gym the next day, getting worked up about a stupid email you read at 10:30 last night. Then you go off on the culprit the next day, who often sheepishly replies, “jeez, I didn’t mean any thing by it!” Does this read familiar to you?
Email is a horrible way to express your intentions, so of all media to eat before bedtime, it’s the worst one for your soul.
Lately, I’ve been passing by my laptop on the way to bed. It’s not there. I don’t drag the iPad to bed, I read out of my Kindle instead. And I’m sleeping better too. Nothing’s gone wrong, either, so turns out, it was a waste of time. The next morning, over a cup of coffee, last night’s email never reads that badly.
For more, check out this video, from one of my keynotes.