Twelve-Steps to curing E-Mail Addiction

E-mail addicts can be placed in the same basket with alcoholics and drug abusers: a 12-step program designed to tackle their obsession is now available. Marsha Egan, an executive coach in Pennsylvania, has devised a plan to teach people how to manage the electronic tool, hoping to solve the deepening concern that e-mail misuse can cost businesses millions of dollars in lost productivity. "There is a crisis in corporate America, but a lot of CEOs don't know it. They haven't figured out how expensive it is," Egan said. Ready for some examples? Imagine a golfer who checked his BlackBerry after every shot or people who will not vacation to places where they cannot use their e-mail systems. Worst case scenario? Waiting at your inbox an e-mail to appear, and sending yourself an e-mail when one hasn't shown up in several minutes. The first of Egan's 12 steps is "admit that e-mail is managing you. Let go of your need to check e-mail every 10 minutes."

Egan says she hosts no 12-step meetings but is planning a monthly teleconference for "e-mailers anonymous." She also recommends checking e-mail not more than three or four times a day. According to Evan, workers who receive an e-mail take four minutes on average to read it and recover from the interruption before they can resume working productively. Some employees resist the lure of e-mail during the regular workday, only to find themselves putting in extra hours at home to clear the backlog. One of Egan's clients said he had 3,600 messages in his inbox.

Link: The 12 Steps
News source: CNN

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18 Comments

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I dunno why checking eMail qualifies as an addiction...

I have Mail open in the background, auto-checking every 1 minute for new messages, Growl puts a popup on the screen with the first sentence of the message whenever a new one comes in. If I'm right there at my computer I take a look, if I'm away I command+tab to see if the Mail icon has a number indicating waiting messages and either look at them or go about my business. Exactly how does that control me and not the other way around? Better to be informed...

Now my webcomic bookmarks, that's another story...

"Egan says she hosts no 12-step meetings but is planning a monthly teleconference for "e-mailers anonymous.""

Maybe she should set up a mail list for her group. At least she'd know if the users got her email...;)

Pshh. Email.

I've moved on to become addicted by IM and several online games. Email client checks for mail every 3 mins in the background and makes a little icon in my system tray if I get a new one. No stress, no addiction...and I know when to look and see when there's a new email.

The reason mail is addictive is because it
a) can be important
b) arrives at seemingly random intervals

This promote hammering of the 'check mail' button. Probably the behavior is re-inforced by people sending a mail and dropping by your office 10 minutes later to discuss it (what, didn't you get the mail?).

I think checking mail every hour or so is good enough, and most people don't expect a response sooner than that, if they do they call.

CheeseCow said,
It's probably more common is businesses, where mail more often contain important information.

Oh, come on, as the quote said, "One of Egan's clients said he had 3,600 messages in his inbox" - I doubt that all 3,600 emails on that day were actually important; mosf it was probably complete and utter ****.

Then again, there are alot of people employed who basically do nothing of any real meaning the whole day; you know, they sit at a desk, and they actually have nothing to show for their days work - heck, they don't even know what their position is! heck, atleast at the end of the day at my work I can point out and say, "I did this, this, this and this" and actually tell someone what my job entails rather than, "I work at an office and use a computer all day" - as if it were actually a productive job.

kaiwai said,

Oh, come on, as the quote said, "One of Egan's clients said he had 3,600 messages in his inbox" - I doubt that all 3,600 emails on that day were actually important; mosf it was probably complete and utter ****.

Then again, there are alot of people employed who basically do nothing of any real meaning the whole day; you know, they sit at a desk, and they actually have nothing to show for their days work - heck, they don't even know what their position is! heck, atleast at the end of the day at my work I can point out and say, "I did this, this, this and this" and actually tell someone what my job entails rather than, "I work at an office and use a computer all day" - as if it were actually a productive job.

Not being able to handle vagueness/ambiguety is a weakness. Not all can point to something concrete they have accomplished at the end of the day, but that does not automatically mean they are doing a bad job. Professionals typically produce something, whereas managers and above often have vague targets. For instance, if you were planning to leave the company, and I conviced you to stay, how much is that worth? 1 day of work? 2 days of work? Such things are hard to judge.

what you mean I'm the only person that send myself emails for myself?


I feel so alone :disappointed:

ROFL what a joke, no one does that...

It said while waiting at their inbox for an email to appear, so I'm guessing they send themself an email to make sure it is still working. Who knows. I had no idea emailing was addicting. I thought people in chat rooms or messengers was more of a problem.

Actually i send emails to myself sometimes. :P

Although its usally because i want to send myself a file/some information and pick it up later at another computer.

Or when trying to diagnose/fix/reproduce a mailserver problem.

why the hell would ANYONE want to REDUCE their productivity by being LATE to know what they SHOULD HAVE known A HALF AN HOUR ago?!?!?!?!

lmao, exactly.

can you not set up a blackberry or whatever to check every X minutes, and vibrate or make a sound whenever you get an email, though? i dont know.

cchasem said,
lmao, exactly.

can you not set up a blackberry or whatever to check every X minutes, and vibrate or make a sound whenever you get an email, though? i dont know.

I let Google Talk check my email for me. And usually if anyone emails me when I'm at my computer, I reply within 5 minutes of receiving the email. If it's short I sometimes manage a 1 to 2 minutes response time.