How to break your e-mail addiction

A 12-step recovery programme for inbox-obsessed computer users has been prescribed by an e-doctor who says unhealthy use of e-mail is costing them time, stress and money.

You know when you’re addicted to e-mail when users habitually suspect their system has fallen over and so message themselves “just to make sure,” says e-coach, Marsha Egan.

Tell-tale signs of addiction include hitting ‘send/receive’ as a habit, further to regularly checking spam filters to ensure vital messages haven’t gone astray, she said.

Egan told Reuters one of her clients cannot pass a computer – her own or anyone else’s without checking for mail, while another won’t holiday in an e-mail-less location.

As the head of Egan E-mail Solutions, she offers weekly time-saving techniques, said to be a ‘quick & easy’ read, but also plans to run a telephone conference: ‘e-mailers anonymous.’

Her top tips for reducing the time spent on e-mail are as follows:

1. Let go of your need to check e-mail every ten minutes.

2. Commit to keeping your inbox empty.

3. Create files where you can put inbox material that needs to be acted on.

4. Make broad headings for your filing system so that you have to spend less time looking for filed material.

5. Deal immediately with any e-mail that can be handled in two minutes or less; create a file for mails that take longer.

6. Set a target date to empty your in box. Don't spend more than an hour at a time doing it.

7. Turn off automatic send/receive.

8. Establish regular times to review your e-mail.

9. Involve others in conquering your addiction.

10. Reduce the amount of e-mail you receive.

11. Save time by using only one subject per e-mail; delete extra comments from forwarded e-mail, and make the subject line detailed.

12. Celebrate taking a new approach to e-mail.

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