You're not a big deal

I had a major realisation this week: I'm much less important than I think I am.

I don't want to downplay my value to the company I work for, or to the organisations I work with. What I do want to downplay is what this realisation means for my time.

Ultimately, I should be the owner of my attention. Other people can borrow it if I agree to that, but nobody should feel like they can take it without warning.

This was the actual realisation: I don't need to be available 24/7. If I don't pick up an email for a few hours, the world will not descend into chaos. If I miss a Slack message, we won't lose our biggest client.

So I made a change this week: I gave myself permission to reclaim ownership of my attention. I removed email from my phone, and I uninstalled Slack.

So far, everything is fine. In fact, the only adverse effect has been a bit of anxiety when I've realised I can't check my emails while I'm eating dinner with my partner. But it was easy to remind myself that this anxiety is only a result of me not being able to satisfy a habit I've been building for years. If I really had to check emails or Slack, I could go get my laptop from my home office. But most of the time, that is too much friction than I can be bothered with.

As far as the positive effects go, they're pretty clear (and well-documented by other smart people including Tim Ferriss). I've been more present while spending time with my partner, and my brain has felt much less scattered and confused. I've also been able to truly relax in my downtime.

If you're reading this, you've probably heard the advice to delete email from your phone before. But if you've avoided taking this step because - like me - you were worried about not being immediately reachable, I promise, you're not that big a deal.

Peter Bryant

Peter Bryant

York, UK