In an age of digitised and instant communication, we tend to give little time and thought to the things we type and send to one another.

We also don’t consider the ways in which we handle this onslaught of communication, and how our habits reflect our inner workings. This applies to various platforms – instant messaging, social media and email.

Leading human behaviourist, Dr John Demartini explains what our email habits reveal about us:

I save every email: Does this mean that I’m a perfectionist, or a workaholic?

Every decision we make is based upon what we believe will provide us with the greatest advantage over disadvantage at any given moment. These benefits may span the realms of commercial, financial, social and mental gains.

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It follows then, that if we are saving emails, it is because we believe that they will serve us to either read them or respond to them in the immediate, near or far future.

We do this even though it may distract us from other actions that we assume would be more productive as we consciously or unconsciously believe that the decision we make to save them is more advantageous, or we would not continue to do it.

I prefer to prioritise my emails, and read and answer them at the most selective time according to my daily schedule and priorities

When the advantages of responding to each email diminishes and the advantages of deleting or delegating them increases due to an overwhelming number of emails, a natural prioritisation generally emerges to compensate and to prevent any continued sense of being overwhelmed.

I file and/or delete all my emails: Does this mean I’m overly controlling? Or that I’m simply good at time management and prioritising?

When we prioritise our incoming emails and file them for later attention, we see a benefit in doing so – otherwise we would respond to them immediately. We probably prefer to prioritise our daily actions to maximise our productivity than to let low priority distractions hinder us.

I believe that we are generally more aware of our highest values and priorities, and are thus more self-governed (than generally perceived). Also, we allow our ‘intended stress’ to overrule our ‘unintended distress’ and tackle what is truly most important in our lives.

I ignore emails: Does leaving certain emails unread or unanswered mean I’m disengaged at work or overwhelmed? Or could it actually be a good trait?

We may choose not to let others dictate to us by not allowing their priorities to become our priorities.

We are obviously disengaged with their priorities over our own, which is often wise, depending upon who they are in our lives. If we feel that ignoring them will provide greater advantages than disadvantages, we will go on to more important actions instead.

Also, we may have learned that ignoring emails screens out truly unimportant emails and offers feedback to the sender to use alternative means to communicate with us if it is really urgent.

Ultimately, we need to grant ourselves the permission to live by our own highest priorities.