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Home  > Article

Control Your E-mail Before it Controls You


Are you an email addict? Know the signs!

(ARA) - Are we a nation obsessed with e-mail? Do we check it first thing in the morning and all day long? Does it keep us up at night? Can we go more than three days without it? A survey recently released by America Online in conjunction with Opinion Research Corporation suggests that the answers to these questions are a resounding yes.

The E-mail Addiction survey asked Americans about their e-mail habits, including everything from how often they check personal e-mail at work to whether or not they've ever checked e-mail while in church. The survey found that e-mail users today rely on e-mail as much as the phone for communication, spend about an hour a day on e-mail, and that 77 percent of e-mail users have more than one e-mail account - all pointing to the fact that e-mail has forever changed the way we communicate.

If all of this sounds a little too familiar, following are a few tips that AOL recommends for managing your e-mail addiction.

? Set a "Virtual Curfew" -- no exchanges after 10 p.m. for instance.

? Meal Time is Not Mail Time -- Turn off all devices during meals. If you've got your Blackberry in one hand and a sandwich in the other - red flag. (Same goes for meetings. Leave your handheld devices in your office or you'll never be entirely focused on anything).

? The "Rule of 3" -- if it takes more than 3 e-mail exchanges to sort something out, pick up the phone.

? Nix Neighborly E-mails - if you're sitting right next to someone in the office, don't send them e-mail. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens everyday. Stand up and talk to them face-to-face.

? Check Yourself - if you didn't send so much e-mail, maybe you wouldn't get so much.

? Don't Over Reply - short or one word e-mails like: "great!" or "sounds good" are probably just flooding someone else's box. Spare them.

? Stop the Swirl - one way to cut down on getting a million replies or -- e-mail "swirl" -- is to keep the number of cc:'s in check. Also if you were cc:'d on something, don't feel compelled to write back. If everyone does, you're all in deep.

? Store, Don't Hoard -- the problem with e-mail is not the new messages coming in every day, it's the mess that's already there. Rather than keeping your important e-mail messages in your inbox, store them in well-labeled files. On AOL, use your personal filing cabinet.

? Deal With it -- deal with each message as you open it: delete it, forward it, schedule it, respond to it, file it, etc.

? Don't Scroll - establish a goal of always keeping your inbox to one screen. You should always be able to see the last message in your Inbox without scrolling.

? Unsubscribe - unsubscribe to unwanted newsletters -- maybe it was once great, but you're over it. Take a few seconds to get off the list and you won't have to see it in your inbox each day.

? Limit to 10 minutes a day while on vacation - 60 percent of e-mail users check e-mail while on vacation. If your e-mail is all you can think about when you are lying on the beach, you've wrecked it. So give yourself 10 minutes of e-mail time a day just to clear your mind. But don't get sucked in and waste your vacation on the computer?your family might decide to leave you at home next time around.

? Take a Day Off - Designate one day a week to be e-mail free - or even E-MAIL FREE WEEKENDS.

? Can Spam - Make sure you have great spam fighting and virus protection to not just cut down on junk mail but to improve security. If you don't, sign up for a free AIM Mail account at to get industry-leading spam and virus protection as well as two gigabytes of storage.

Managing your addiction to e-mail will take some self-discipline, but setting some simple boundaries is a good start. You should find yourself reclaiming free time and relieving stress in the process.

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