Do emails make you less creative?


I came across an interesting proposition the other day – it was that emails are ruining our creativity. That is a big claim and there was not a huge amount of scientific evidence to back this up so the easiest way I thought to test its validity was to try a few experiments for myself.

One of the clear trends of late has been the fact that people check their emails and their social media feeds before they do just about anything in the morning. Now, I’m certainly not that bad because I need breakfast before I can really function in the morning, but I will admit to checking emails not long after breakfast, just to see what has come in over night.

Unwittingly, that has certainly become a de facto habit that actually turns out is hard to break. The reason is that our brains love new ‘things’ and email really hits the spot for us humans. The contention is that, upon waking, your brain is at its most creative but if those energies are directed to other tasks, like worrying about actions to take as a result of the inbound emails, then that creative energy is largely lost.

The experiment was therefore to complete some creative task (reading or writing) before becoming immersed in emails. Like any addiction, breaking away from looking at new emails is far tougher than you think, however doing so did produce positive results for me.

I certainly found that if I dedicated time to a creative process prior to reading emails, I felt a greater sense of achievement, and this feeling lasted throughout the day. I also tended to find that my concentration levels were higher throughout the day.

Of course these results are highly subjective, but I believe they are positive enough that they are worth a try if you are looking to get more from your day. In general I recommend that you stay away from emails as much as you can during the day as they are huge productivity killers. That however, is the subject for another post but you’ll be amazed how much more time you’ll have everyday if you reduce the amount of time you spend with your emails open.