Why I Don’t Get Work Email Sent to My Phone

When I started my most recent position and told my manager I didn’t have work email on my phone, he was speechless. I joked that work doesn’t pay for my phone, so why would I put email on it? He offered to have work pay for my phone. I declined.

Last week a client who I’m good friends with asked me if I was having any issues with meetings synchronizing to my phone. When I told him I don’t have work email on my phone, he looked at me confused. “What do you do, go home and log on with your laptop?” I told him. For the rest of the day, every time he walked past my desk he shook his head in disbelief.

My work stays at work. My boundaries are defined. And my employer and clients are better off because of it.

I don’t want to have a little mail icon on my phone with a badge proclaiming unread email counts. I don’t ever want to casually browse work emails from my sofa because I’m bored. The modern “always on” mentality towards work leaves people drained and overwhelmed.

Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule, but I spend much of my time outside of work reading books, building websites, thinking of interesting business ideas, learning about new technologies, tinkering, and hacking. Building those skills and that passion outside of work is far more important than replying to emails that can wait until tomorrow. Unplugging completely allows me to travel farther in other directions.

What’s your relationship with your smartphone?

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  • Mike March 4, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Did the same thing with my work email recently and it’s great. Scary (still feels that way) but have yet to have any real problems!

    Great post Derek.

    • derek March 4, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Excellent! Maybe it’ll catch on. My next step is to keep my smartphone out of the bedroom. I don’t want it to be the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.

  • Brooke March 4, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    One of the best things about your life.

    • derek March 4, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Thank you. My mom used to tell me stories about my grandfather, who always left work at work and kept home at home. I was very influenced by that.

  • Hamid Ettefagh November 22, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Great article. I’m the same way. I refuse to have work emails pestering me while I’m trying to enjoy my ‘me time’.

  • Nathan Cunningham February 17, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Curious how this is working for you one year on? I think this is admirable and healthy. Admirable because its so counter-cultural. Admirable because it shows a command of what’s important vs. what’s urgent. Healthy because you are not the guy walking around the office / in elevator ignoring or accidentally running into people.

    • derek February 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Still excellent. When I need to check work email for any reason, I use webmail through a browser. That happens very rarely. It’s alarming how easy it is to get sucked in once I’m logged in. Good reminder how dangerous it is having work email so accessible.

      I have the occasional inconvenience of needing to look up dial-in info for early morning meetings, etc., but that hasn’t been too painful.

      My company has released a lot of great useful mobile apps recently, and it has been tempting to enroll in Mobile Device Management to get some of those benefits. I could do that without putting email on, but am still on the fence.