Can't Get out of Your E-Mail Inbox? You're Not Alone

Ann All

Haven't received an e-mail in 10 minutes, so you send yourself a message just to make sure the network isn't down or something?


It may be time to admit you have a problem, says Marsha Egan, a life coach who appears to have touched a collective nerve with seminars that help folks reduce their dependence on e-mail in 12 steps. (The number is no coincidence.)


The anecdote is a true one, culled from a client. She's got lots of them, like the golfer who checked his BlackBerry after every shot and the client whose inbox was packed with 3,600 messages.


Just so no one mistakes her for a psychiatrist, Egan says folks like them have an "e-diction." The affliction sounds gimmicky but can result in serious productivity losses and lots of stress besides.


In an interview with IT Business Edge, Egan says it takes folks an average of four minutes to recover from an interruption -- which translates to two hours of lost time a day for people who receive 30 e-mails. Another problem: those who get so caught up in reading -- and worse -- responding to mundane messages that they neglect the important stuff.


Egan isn't the only one who thinks this is a problem. A recent Web Worker Daily blog post lists some tips from psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, author of "CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap."


When it comes to the BlackBerry, known affectionately -- or not -- to its users as the CrackBerry, a couple of Canadian fellas seem to think it's better to just go with the information overload flow.


Calling themselves the Crack Team, they figured they weren't the only ones "hanging out in back lanes looking for better signal strength and hanging around malls looking for new accessories and devices." So they created the Crackberry.com Web site, which is packed with BlackBerry tips, rumors and games, among other content.

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Mar 17, 2007 10:31 AM Jim Keena Jim Keena  says:
I was recently directed by my boss to pay attention more to my email. I have been around email too long to admit and learned that I needed to manage it before it controlled me. I managed to discipline myself to only look at email 3 times a day or if an alert pop up from a boss or stakeholder that deserved more immediate attention. Now since my boss's direction, I seem to be in my email 85% or more a day. Most email is just informative and does not require my immediate attention. My boss's addiction is now mine, and I want to go back to my method of email management. If it is that important, people should use the phone or come to my desk right? Reply
Jan 5, 2009 9:57 AM Pat Hinde Pat Hinde  says:
This whole topic is a double edge sword. For example, if you (especially if you are a leader) answer and send emails off hours it prompts your employees and co-workers to do the same even if you were not looking for an answer until business hours. On the other hand, if a situation arises and you are the person who can either resolve or answer the question at hand but do not , then others who were copied in also send out replies either with wrong answers or more questions which prompts more replies by others. If you do send out the resolution or answer it stops a lot of churn but at the same time sets expectations that you are always available. You must use good judgment in what you reply to and when and to whom. As for "Thanks" and "Great" type of emails, again as a leader that goes a long way for your team and as for junk emails that sometimes flow from an issue email, e.g., we had an issue regarding one of our systems just recently that impacted the global teams. A question regarding weather was sent in on of the emails from an individual within the team and it created a lot of other emails. Now though this is truly anti productive it also again helps foster a bond among team members across the globe in that there is not the water cooler to talk around. I could go on about pros and cons so I will just stop now. I have a blackberry and in my case though it can be disruptive from time to time, if I am careful on when I send what, it has turned out to be a tool that has actually given me more freedom as I do not need to be at my desk/PC all the time. Reply

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