A program for e-mail addiction stumbles

Hi, my name is Paul, and I am an e-mail addict.

Reuters last month brought us news that an executive coach named Marsha Egan has devised a 12-step program to treat e-mail addiction.

Let’s just say I am unimpressed. Here’s the list:

1. Admit that e-mail is managing you. Let go of your need to check e-mail every 10 minutes.

Where are those Guinness guys from the TV commercials when you need them? Brilliant! I’ll just “let go” of my need to check e-mail every 10 minutes (if only I could wait 10 minutes) and there will be no need at all for the next 11 steps. Brilliant!

2. Commit to keeping your in-box empty.

What am I missing? I’m already committed to keeping my in-box empty. I’m so committed to keeping my in-box empty that I’m checking my e-mail more often than hibernating animals breathe. I don’t need more commitment. I need to be committed.

3. Create files where you can put in-box material that needs to be acted on.

Oh, that old chestnut. The only file that might do me any good is the deleted file…and even then it would have to be set to be automatically emptied every 10 minutes.

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

Seriously, someone pour me a drink, or I’ll never get through these 12 steps. The only file that’s a problem is my in-box. Does anyone advise an alcoholic to do a better job of filing their booze?

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

Again with the files. And two minutes or less? Practically all of my e-mail can be dealt with in two minutes or less. The problem is that I’m checking it every two minutes or less.

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

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