Photo: TFDuesing via Flickr
Harj Taggar is a partner at Y Combinator, which is, at the moment, Silicon Valley’s most important early stage startup investor. Y Combinator is more than just another venture capital firm, it is something of a Professor X’s school for mutant entrepreneurs.
The place teaches young people how to create companies, and boy do they. Billion dollar startups AirBnB and DropBox are just a couple very well known YC portfolio companies.
One of the most important parts of Taggar’s very important job is staying in touch with YC entrepreneurs.
So it’s pretty surprising that Taggar has written a blog post explaining why he has, over the past six months, phased out a method of communication that so many of us working today have come to believe we depend on: email on our phones.
“Six months ago I deleted email from my phone by unlinking my Gmail account from the iPhone Mail app,” writes Taggar on his personal blog.
So, how has life changed for Taggar?
The first is obvious: He’s much slower at responding to email.
But the second consequence of giving up email, a supposed “productivity” app, is surprising: Taggar is feeling much more productive in his work.
Checking email had always been Taggar’s go-to procrastination method and that’s going away – “even when I’m at my desk with easy access to my email,” he writes.”
“I’ve long realised that email is the biggest killer of my productivity e.g. if I’m trying to code I never stop to go and play video games but I did stop and check my email because I could justify it as work (“work” that is both significantly easier and provides a quicker dopamine hit than trying to solve a hard problem). But once I rid myself of the habit of checking email constantly on my phone, suddenly I had less of a habitual urge to check my email in general.”
“It feels wonderful.”
Taggar also says getting rid of email on his phone has been making his days feel longer.
“If I’m walking from one place to another I actually have time to look around, observe my surroundings (which is actually a great source of cheeriness when you live in Palo Alto, the place has a real cheery feel to it) and most importantly, to think. It only takes a few of these moments to have a considerable impact on stopping the day feeling like it has whizzed by in a blur.”
The feeling has been so great, that Taggar has gone ahead and deleted several other procrastination-friendly, can-always-check-the-latest-news apps on his phone: Facebook, Quora, and Twitter.
He misses Twitter the most, but says he doesn’t plan to go back.
Want to turn off email from your iPhone? Go to the “Settings” app. Tap “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.” Under “Accounts” tap your email account. Next to “Mail” slide the toggle switch from “on” to “off.” Longer days, here you come.