How often do you check your email? When you install email software, such as Microsoft Outlook, it is set up to automatically check for new messages every 10 minutes. Few people change the default settings, so most people get used to emails popping into their inbox regularly throughout the day. It becomes the norm to keep on seeing that inbox grow.
But wait a mo….! When you didn’t have email, did you check your postbox every 10 minutes for physical mail? Or did once, or perhaps twice a day, do?
A new study by AOL has revealed we are becoming ever more addicted to email. According to the research, almost half (46%) admit to being hooked on email. So much so that people even check their emails while in the bathroom, on a date, or even during a church service. In response, AOL recommends clearing out your inbox, getting a new email address and starting again.
But that’s no answer – all that will happen is that your new email address will also get checked every few minutes, your inbox will grow and you’ll find yourself checking for messages while making love.
It doesn’t have to be like this. You can break free from the clutches of email.
Step One: Change the default settings on your email program to check only every four hours.
Step Two: Set up a special folder in your email program called “Action”
Step Three: When you check your emails (now every four hours) move the emails you need to deal with to the Action folder. Ignore the rest.
Step Four: Set a time in your schedule to deal with the Action folder – this is a once-a-day time, perhaps at 4pm.
Step Five: Go through the Action folder at your scheduled Action time and deal with the emails – then file them
Email addiction is nothing of the sort – it is merely an inability to take control. Most people are letting Microsoft run their daily life by accepting the nonsensical default of 10-minute checking.
And if you think this will not work – consider the case of Tim Ferris. He wrote “The 4 Hour Work Week“. He only deals with emails twice a day and manages to earn a million dollar fortune and run a busy, enjoyable life without being ever-stuck to his inbox. His book demonstrates that by reducing your checking of emails you can actually increase both productivity and profit. We have all become umbilically connected to our inboxes through no reason, other than habit and assumption. We assume that our emails need immediate attention, when in fact, they do not. As I have said before, if it is really, really urgent you will get a phone call, not an email.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+