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How to Stop Checking Your Email So Much


Image by lastquest (license).

.“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
Karen Lamb

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.”
Jim Rohn

One thing that is very easy to get hooked on nowadays is to endlessly be checking your email, Facebook, Twitter etc. all day long.

I have certainly had a few bouts with getting hooked mostly on checking email too much. Many of my readers have emailed me and told me how they often spend too much of their days on Facebook or on checking their inboxes.

This may not seem that serious of a problem in theory, but these small bad habits can add up and disturb your life quite a bit. The excessive checking leads to:

  • Spending your weeks, energy and time on the wrong things. When you spend too much time and energy in the wrong places then you often don’t get the most important things done. Your most important actions and tasks at work or school and your dreams and goals become something you neglect or procrastinate on.
  • The illusion of getting important things done. When you are doing stuff in your inbox or social media accounts it may feel very important. But what of those things are really important 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now? Some of that stuff is truly important of course. But don’t get lost in busy work.
  • Increased sense of feeling worried, anxious and stressed. The more I checked my email the more nervous and anxious I became of missing something or that I would get a really angry or disappointed email. Plus, when you get stuck in using too much of your time and energy on the checking then you often don’t use your days in a good way and so the self-esteem tends to go down.

So what can you do to break out of these habits? Here are a couple of tips that helped me to stop being hooked on checking my email account too much and to be careful with Facebook and Twitter.

Be conscious of why you are doing it.

One thing that really helps me is simply to be conscious of why I wanted to check the email so much. I could be because I didn’t want to miss something important, to get compliments and validation from positive emails, to quickly solve the issues of people with a question or simply to relieve an inner feeling and impulse to check the email once again.

By just being conscious of this when I feel that I probably should check the email it becomes easier to say stop and go do something else instead.

Ask yourself: what is the worst that could happen if I don’t check it right now?

If you want to check the email many times a day because you are afraid something bad will happen if you don’t then ask the question above. And look to the past for references of how things usually go when you haven’t checked your email for a while. Don’t get lost in wild, disastrous fantasies taken from your overthinking mind.

Pause when you feel the need to check and just be still.

I have found that the need will pass if you don’t do anything for a few seconds or minutes. Then think of something better to do and do that instead.

Set clear boundaries.

Check your email, Facebook etc. just once a day if possible. Turn off your computer or cell phone at a certain time in the evening. Or put your smart phone where you can’t access it without getting up and walking a small distance. Or put is somewhere where you can’t see it, like in a drawer.

These boundaries will reduce checking and also make it easier to spend quality time with the people in your life without having to see that phone or computer and letting the impulse to do one quick check ruin a good conversation.

Make a deal with yourself to postpone checking for one hour in the morning.

You can probably postpone the checking for one hour in the morning without big consequences. Then if possible, after a day or two, try to move the checking further down the day. Maybe to after lunch. Or perhaps even, as I have, to the end of the workday.

The further you can move the checking in your workday, the less of a priority it will feel like as you fill the first hour(s) of your day with what is actually the most important stuff. This will reduce the impulse checking that often becomes worse if you start your day with the email.

Simply fill your day with more important and exciting things.

Checking up on Facebook, Twitter and email can be a good help and addition to your life but it can also become a sort of replacement where it becomes easy to spend time instead of going out and having other experiences and being there fully. Stuff like being out in nature, playing sports or playing in a band, working towards your biggest goal, having uninterrupted conversations or a fun night out.

By filling your life with a bit more fun or exciting activities, people face to face and the things you want out of life you simply won’t have time or as many reasons to do all that checking anymore.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rosemarie May 9, 2012, 4:21 pm

    One of the big things for me was still having the email program open but just taking the accounts off-line. Invariably if I shut the email program I find there’s a message that I need, but by taking the accounts off-line, I keep the program itself open but don’t get distracted by new messages.

  • Thanks for this post, this is exactly what I needed today!When you work for yourself and spend a lot of time on your laptop like me, it can be hard to step away from the emails coming in and easy to lose some valuable time. I will keep these ideas in mind from now on. All the best, Sylvia.

  • Luis Javier López Arredondo May 10, 2012, 1:50 am

    Mmm, your post is about how to work the willpower, Interesting.

    I use more pragmatical tricks. Basically I keep only one application running at a time. Works perfectly for me: http://www.unorule.com/xcrum/

    Thank you.
    Luis

  • Wendy Schauer May 10, 2012, 8:59 am

    It seems that so many of us these days are like Pavlov’s dog – the moment we hear a ding on our smart phone we jump, the very second our iPod touch chimes we jump to see who is talking to us. The sad thing is that many times someone is already in front of us trying to talk (connect) with us in “real time”.

    By the way, GREAT Jim Rohn quote. :-)

  • Wakas Mir May 10, 2012, 10:54 am

    Well written Henrik.. lots of people spend countless hours every day on social media and checking emails as if the world would break down if they didn’t, sadly in the mean time the most beautiful things in life are just passing by while we are busy in things that probably can wait.

  • David Hall May 11, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Great post!

    I lost my iPhone 2 weeks ago and after several days of anxiety (yes, ANXIETY) I started to calm down a little.

    No more checking Facebook 24/7, no more tweeting when I should be eating, no more texts at 3am.

    I think I’m going to get another one this weekend, but I’m not sure… This has been a nice vacation.

  • Ben May 13, 2012, 1:36 am

    hahaha I can really identify with this. When i’m doing something important like doing stuff on my business, checking my email and facebook always seems tempting.

    I started a course last night and one thing really stood out, he suggested “Do your productive actions first!”. And that ISNT checking email or facebook, it is working on your business and doing stuff around that. And suggested to make a timeblock of similar things and do them at that time.

    I like it.. i’m taking it into account and I can with EFT even start to let go of the emotions trying to make me do this stuff all the time to help me focus, it’s so simple I didn’t think of it before. :)

    -Ben

  • Nishant May 14, 2012, 6:17 am

    Thanks a lot. It is difficult to avoid checking email. But social netwrking sites kills a lot of time. After reading your article i realized how much time i am waisting. So i deactivated my facebook account today.

  • Shagun May 18, 2012, 9:31 am

    Dear Henrik
    very valuable tips on this by you. There is one more thing which I waste my time on… which is t.v.
    I am sure I can use your tip being conscious about it, will help me to reduce the bad habit.
    Thanks … keep posting :)

  • Henrik Edberg May 21, 2012, 10:18 am

    Thank you everyone for sharing your own best tips and insights! :)

  • SilverQuest May 22, 2012, 3:50 pm

    If you are really expecting important emails or emails regarding your work then it is necessary to check your email throughout the day. But if you are not really expecting urgent messages, regarding your work or your personal life, then it’s better to schedule your “email time”: and stick to that schedule.

  • Dominique May 26, 2012, 5:18 pm

    I’ve been reading your blogs these days . And those are worth-reading :) Got a bunch of learnings.

    I get hooked on checking my emails and facebook. From 9 am untill 2 am on the following day. And recently I realized how much time I wasted of having into “obsession” of checking my emails and fb every now and then . I decided to find something that are interesting and that would feed my brain. And this is it, I found something great and full of lessons. Thank you for inspiring me Mr. Henrik. (Sorry if I’m not good in english :))

    God bless.

  • startliving.org.uk June 1, 2012, 5:57 pm

    The worse thing I do is check my email first thing in the morning. There is always something in there which takes my focus and time away from what I had planned to do. Email is a black hole for time…

  • Kelsey June 6, 2012, 11:24 pm

    Checking email constantly is such a bad habit…I need to schedule out times. That would certainly make it more manageable!