How to Practice Mindfulness with Email in the Workplace

How to Practice Mindfulness with Email in the Workplace

What would our life be like without email? Think about it. If you are old enough to remember, it was certainly different. One cannot fathom to think how much our lives have been transformed by the ability to mass-communicate, quickly and easily, all at the press of a button.

They are everywhere and there’s no escaping them. What’s more, we check them CONSTANTLY. In meetings, in the loos, even mid-sex we are told…hmm.

Email then is a corporate work productivity killer. A recent study by the Wall Street Journal says that we check our emails a massive 74 times a day. With levels of productivity in the U.K. at an all time low (some would blame that on the EU…), management of email is becoming an important aspect of effective time management in the office place.

However, there are times when we have to reply to an email; when it leaves us no choice but to respond, sometimes in challenging, provoking and confronting circumstances. If you are unlucky, sometimes that response can leave us wishing we never responded in the first place…

I first learnt my lesson with ’email’ as a young associate full of testosterone and a fragile ego always looking for validation. I responded to an email from a more senior Director in a  less than optimal way. I was lucky that a gentle conversation afterwards in the Director’s office was enough to put the fire out. Some haven’t always been so lucky..

For my Australian readers, who remembers the email fight between two assistants in a prominent Australian law firm about who stole their packet of ham, cheese slices and two pieces of bread from the office kitchen?


You see, as I recently learnt with Adrian from the Now Project, we all have our ‘pain body’. This pain results from things that may have happened to us in the past, leaving us feeling vulnerable, fragile or even scarred. That is why when someone is angry, the object of that anger is not about you, it is always about them. The only logical response when confronted with such anger is to ask: “are you ok?”

When our pain bodies are triggered, we can get all defensive in our thought-generated perception of reality – for the delusion of our own anger is very apparent in episodical fits of manic email rage, since such anger solely relates to our conditioning and experience of life so far.

It is during such times when we are challenged, confronted or even verbally assaulted on email that we can truly practice mindfulness. Whenever we feel the urge to respond in anger or in haste, when we feel our emotions rise within the body, then we know that we should pause, take a deep breath and recalibrate. At that moment in our experience of awareness, it is NOT the time to respond to that email. Stop right there – often our perspective on that email will change once we have had a chance to slow down and let that moment pass.

Going for a walk, doing something else, grabbing a coffee will all help shift that perspective until the subtle pain is no longer felt. In these moments we are best placed to respond to such emails – in a cool, calm and collected way.

As an employee and manager, we are judged by how we carry ourselves in the workplace. Practicing mindfulness when managing the inevitable conflict that results from the use of email in the modern workplace is one way of having a smoother career. I was lucky that I learnt my lesson early on. I would encourage all those in the office place to think about this. It could really be the difference between a prosperous career and one which is not.



City2Sand.. City Yogis do Glastonbury on the Beach


Feel the Mountain..Reflections of a Corporate Yogi on the Slopes ?⛷

  • Agree best to sit on email and think 3 times before sendung..even delete..even draft on word and dont send… or send if it makes sense ..

    Coinsidence…pain body…i am reading the power of now by eckhart tolle. (Name spelt wrong ) and talks about pain body too

    Great post

    March 6, 2017
    • Thanks Bella. Yes great tip about email. Never send it in the moment! Tolle is great, he is inspiration for my post and course. Have a great day ??

      March 6, 2017
      • Tolle..but i do find his book hard to read. I cant read more than 3 pages on a 45 min tube journey ..too much to digest. I wanr to get my note book out at analyse but you know how impossible that is on a crowded have a good day and week.

        March 6, 2017
        • Yeah, I find Tolle hard too. It all gets a bit blurry after a bit. The good thing is that it is in interview format. You can digest a bit, then come back later. It sounds like you need an i-pad or something. I blog on my smart phone! 🙂

          March 8, 2017
          • I blog on my phone when i am being lazy!! I say to myself, it really isnt that hard to turn the laptop on…lol

            I am reading paper back book.. i havent moved to kindle though i have the app and kindle books… old school i eyes prefer it…


            March 8, 2017
          • Forgot say so glad u find it hard to read… i thought i was special?

            March 8, 2017
          • No, I think just like any other normal person trying to read all this spiritual ‘stuff’ ?

            March 9, 2017
  • Shruti Bakshi

    Great reminder and a well written post, thanks Scott! It’s always best to rest for a bit in the space between action and reaction 🙂

    March 6, 2017
    • Thanks Shruti! action and reaction… we always tend to overdo the reaction bit!

      March 8, 2017