Can E-mail Addiction Keep You From Achieving Your Goals?

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Don't let e-mail addiction ruin your productivity.

Earlier this week, in a mentoring group I belong to, we talked about the power that e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other such communication tools can have over people.

I think everyone in the group knew someone who was, or admitted that they themselves were, addicted to checking their email, etc. every 5 minutes or so, either on their computer or smartphone.

I just did some quick addition, and was shocked to see how this adds up:

If you check your e-mail every 5 minutes when you’re at work, then you are checking it 12 times an hour. Multiply 12 times an hour by 8 hours per work day, 5 days a week, and 50 weeks a year (uh, that’s assuming you don’t check your e-mail when you’re on vacation). This adds up to 24,000 times per year!

Now, if you work in customer service, then checking your email frequently is an important part of your job.

But for most of us, if we’re checking our e-mail 24,000 times a year, we are probably sacrificing something somewhere, don’t you think?

For me, if I check email, Facebook or Twitter frequently at the office, I lose focus pretty quickly on the task at hand. I end up getting sucked into conversations, start looking at other links and sites that people recommend.  And all of a sudden, the day is done and I haven’t accomplished all that I had planned to.

At home, if I’m not careful, I could spend so much time connecting with others online that I neglect my family sitting in the same room.

What about you, could e-mail addiction keep you from being productive, achieving your goals and living the life you want?

Four Ways to Keep E-mail from Dominating Your Life

Here are four things you can do to maintain balance and keep e-mail from dominating your life:

  1. Track Your E-mail Time Usage – If you’re not sure if e-mail addiction is a problem for you, you may be in denial. Just kidding! You can know for sure by tracking how you spend your time for a week using a time tracking tool.  Lifehacker did a review of some of the best time tracking applications, including Klok, Manic Time, SlimTime, Rescue Time, and Project Hamster.
  2. Schedule time for e-mail – At the office, try checking email only once an hour and see how that goes for you.  Or maybe just three times a day – first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, and mid-late afternoon.  If you think you might forget to check it (personally, I know I would not forget) you can set an alarm to remind you when it is time.
  3. Handle each e-mail only once – We can save time and be more productive if we handle each e-mail only once, instead of letting it sit in our in-box for action or a response at later time.
  4. Unsubscribe from lists and e-newsletters that you rarely read anymore or that don’t add value to your life.

Has anyone else struggled with e-mail addiction…and do you have any other tips or suggestions?  Please share them in the Comments below.

You might also like:
How to balance your time
Behind on work?  You need a catch-up day
Why is work-life balance important?

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