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Tristan Walker: Why I decided to ‘unplug’ from email

December 4, 2014, 1:00 PM UTC

The 40 under 40 Insider network is an online community where some of the most thoughtful and influential people in business under 40 contribute answers to timely questions about career and leadership. Today’s answer to the question how do you avoid becoming a workaholic? is written by Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

Delete all email accounts (seriously!) I’m a “zero inbox” kind of person. If there are any emails in my inbox at the end of the day, I’ll go crazy. That said, I found myself constantly refreshing my inboxes on my iPhone (just because I could) even if I wasn’t expecting any emails. It became increasingly difficult for me to focus and think in complete thoughts.

Every second (outside of work hours) that I check email is a second lost spending time with loved ones (most importantly, my wife and son). We have a rule at home, “no laptops in the living room,” so that we can spend uninterrupted time together. Then we got smartphones and found an excuse to get around the “no laptop” rule. Change was definitely necessary.

In order to get a handle of this chaotic problem, a friend advised me to try something he did: delete all email accounts from my iPhone. Without the email distractions, I was able to think in complete thoughts. I usually do a lot of conference calls while on the run, so I’d usually have access to email (and the ability to multitask). Without the option to read or respond to emails, folks on the other side of my calls had my full attention.

In order to avoid becoming a workaholic, sometimes you’ve just got to unplug. I will never (ever) again sync my email accounts to my phone. I’d encourage everyone to give it a try.

Read all answers to the 40 under 40 Insider question: How do you avoid becoming a workaholic?

How to avoid becoming a workaholic by Sarah Kauss, CEO and founder of S’well.