Things that Go Bump When We Write – Missed Email Phobia

Missed email phobia strikes when writers hear that little ding, chime or chirp letting them know an email has arrived in their Inbox. Most people can hear their alert and keep plugging away, staying on task. Others argue with their innerselves.

The smart, rationale side says most things coming in via email can wait until break time. The emotional/slightly obessed side goes through every worst case scenario with the same ending: if you had checked your email, you would have won the money, earned the gig or saved Trinity.

Email obsession or missed email phobia took over my life for a while. Some days I hit refresh over and over again waiting on emails. What a waste of time!

So no matter the excuse, here are four ways to cure your email obsession:

1. Set a time limit.

Sending, answering checking…Give yourself regular intervals to check your email and put time limits on responding. This will keep you focused on what’s important – query responses and editor notes and limit the fluff – “if you love cheese pass this on.”

2. Turn off your alert.

I know, I know, this is going to be a tough one. That bing is reassurance that yes, the world is still out there and someone has thought of you today – whether it’s a client,  a friend or just the guy who insists you can help him transfer 2.5 gazillion into your bank account if you just send him $500 for fees. The email alert for the email obsessed is like looking for the Krispy Kreme Hot and Ready light when you’re on a diet. Cruel and unsual punishment.

3. Do a reality check.

If I don’t check my email regularly I can guarentee I’ll have 400 by the end of the day. When I look closer at where those are coming from I get a better understanding of what is trying to suck up my time. Go to your inbox and hit the button to arrange your email by sender. Who sends you the most email? Google alerts? Facebook? That crazy client who can’t seem to honor the client/contractor wall? These emails are where you are spending your time, make sure they are worth it.

4. Go cold turkey.

It works. You may twitch. You may get a little grumpy. In the end, you’ll feel better. Swear off email one day. A whole day. A whole work day. Then with all that extra time do that thing called work. If you need to send queries, hold ’em. Let them marinate a while longer or better yet, write some more! The point of this exercise is to show yourself that you control your email, not the other way around. You will also learn that you didn’t miss anything important because if it is really important, people will still, in 2010, pick up the phone and call.

Are you email obsessed? How many times do you check email a day? Let us know and tell us how you’re going to break free!





2 responses
  1. Leilani Avatar

    I try to limit my email to 2-3 times a day, but often times end up checking it more like TWENTY times a day! The tips above are useful, and I’m going to implement them ,especially setting a time limit, and taking email breaks. I’ve tried to only check email twice a day, and even once a day, but never follow through on my grand plans. Email is an easy distraction from fears surrounding the construction of a freelance writing career. I find that the less focused I feel during the day, the more I check email. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter. It really can become an obsession and one that is difficult to break–but not impossible!

    1. Terreece M. Clarke Avatar

      Leilani! You are so right! When your focus is somewhere else you will hit that darn update button 100 x’s in a day. During those times it’s good to remind yourself if you’re not being productive you might as well get up from the computer and do something else. That’s about the only time I get cleaning LOL!

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