I Have An E-Mail Addiction

"Hi, my name's Dena, and I'm addicted to e-mail."

(Group Response): "Hi, Dena!"

Seriously, it's a problem.  I check e-mail constantly.  And I can't stand to let something just sit.  If it's a newsletter, I must read it.  If a friend sent photos, I must view them.  And if it's one of my political action alert e-mails, I must send an immediate e-mail to the proper Senator or House Representative, telling them they're a boob.

In short, I need help.

I know exactly why I do it.  It's a quick fix for my Type A "let's make a list and check things off" personality.  I can slam through 20 e-mails and feel like I'm getting things done.  At the very least, I'm deleting unneeded messages and clearing my plate so the real work can begin.  The problem is, the real work never does begin because I'm too busy checking the next batch of e-mails that have arrived.

At the risk of damaging my ego, I just don't receive that many urgent e-mails each day.  If I receive 100, probably 2 might require some sort of timely (same day) response.

My friend Ed made a great point at our last writers group meeting that I've been mulling over.  He said, "I'm only good for so many words per day, and if I use them up on e-mails and correspondence, then that's all I have to give for that day."

I never thought of it before in those terms, but that applies to me.  I enter e-mail with the intent of getting rid of the little stuff, but by the time I'm done, I typically have no interest in tackling the big stuff. And I think it's because of what Ed said--I'm just written out by that point.  And I've wasted my energy and words on non-critical documents and mailings.  Not a smart use of time.

I'm toying with the idea of not allowing myself to look at e-mail until at least noon each day.  That would give me an entire morning of writing time. (To show you how addicted I am, even though it's the obvious solution to break a bad habit, I can only commit to thinking about it.) Then I can write more in the afternoon and check e-mail again in the evening. 

I also think the constant checking of e-mail has shortened my attention span. I'm so used to spending 5 seconds to 5 minutes on an e-mail, it's hard to focus for a 2-hour writing session.

Shiver.  Quake.  Withdrawal symptoms are already occurring.  I'll keep you posted.



I wrote the above last night.  It's now 9am on Thursday and yes, I already cheated and checked e-mail. BUT, there were 2 e-mails from NY editors, asking I call them asap to talk about my working on magazine articles for them.  C'mon!  It's like the Universe wants me to cheat.  What's an addict to do?