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.