Are you Addicted to E-mail ?

e-mail addict

How many times per day do you check your e-mail ? On average, we check our e-mail 2 -3 times per day, causing us to be unable to think clearly and stay focused.

E-mail has become the default communications channel of the 21st century. It is a quick way to stay in touch with lots of people and solves the problem of voicemail tag. However, there is a growing awareness of the other side of e-mail. In a recent Symantec survey of e-mail users in Europe, 74 percent of people said they think e-mail is addictive and 21 percent admitted to being e-mail dependent – compulsively checking their e-mail and panicking when they can’t.

Constant e-mail users suffer a 10-point drop in IQ scores, more than twice the drop recorded by heavy marijuana users. This clinical trial by HP and the University of London, involving more than a thousand participants, found that e-mail addicts developed an inability to distinguish between trivial and important messages.

Constantly checking your e-mail is a perfect way to stay busy and distracted in the MIND and not in the present moment. If you check your e-mail more than five times a day, consider that you may be addicted to e-mail. The problem with constantly checking your e-mail is that you train people to believe you are instantly available via e-mail and they will expect instant response from you.

E-mail cannot transmit your presence. Presence is how humans relate to other humans and connect in community. Presence is how humans communicate feeling and a powerful conversation always has an element of feeling. You cannot create relationship nor have real conversations concerning accountability without feeling tone.

If you spend more than two hours per day in e-mail land, you may be attempting to substitute e-mail for real conversations. Writing is slow. Explaining your point of view or justifying a decision via e-mail requires you to compose text. Wanting to look good requires that the text be well edited.

Producing results requires real, open communication, the kind of connection that happens in face-to-face or telephone conversations. According to a 2007 study published in Psychology Today, telephone communication has four times the success rate of e-mail communication.

How to Heal E-mail Addiction

Be in Truth: How much time do you spend per day in e-mail land ? What is the cost of e-mail addiction on your ability to think clearly and be present to important people in your life?

Are you Hiding from Others: Do you avoid face to face conversations with people? Be in touch with any feelings of rejection that may be driving your e-mail addiction.

Response time: Rescind your promise to be instantly available via e-mail. Negotiate a more realistic e-mail response time with your key people, such as a same-day promise.

No urgent e-mail: Set up agreements not to use e-mail for urgent communications or for matters best discussed in person or on the phone.

Action required: Immediately mark or separate “For Your Info” from “Action Required” e-mail. Deal with your “For Your Info” e-mail all at once at a later time.

Time block e-mail: Schedule two or three time blocks (15-45 minutes long) to check e-mail and respond to “Action Required” e-mail.

Think before responding: Anything that can’t be completed in your set e-mail time, estimate how long it will take and see where it will fit into your schedule.

Stay strong: Only check your e-mail during your e-mail time. The trick to breaking an addiction is to displace the bad habit with a good habit. If you catch yourself checking e-mail, stop.

Pick up the phone: E-mail is the perfect tool to schedule powerful telephone or face-to-face conversations. Remember the telephone is four times as effective at achieving real communication.

Use e-mail – don’t let e-mail use you: Change the default settings in your e-mail program to check for new mail once an hour instead of every few minutes. Try unplugging your e-mail and see how much more focused you become.

Derived from an article by Paul Gossen.

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