Julie Morgenstern is a well-known organizing and  time management consultant.  One of her best pieces of advice is never check e-mail in the morning.

I like Morgenstern’s advice. I try to follow her advice. I avoid Facebook and e-mail before 12 noon.

I fail. I fail almost everyday. Morgenstern’s argument that e-mail is a time suck or that it creates a “frenetic cadence to the workday” have never motivated me to actually succeed with regularity. She describes our relationship with e-mail in terms of it being an e-diction (my word).

What is missing in Morgenstern’s efficiency strategy is a hard, cold stare at why I use e-mail and Facebook. Here are some possibilities. Email and Facebook provide contact with real people. It is easier to feel a sense of completion. Each time I check in, I stand at my very own water cooler.  I am not alone. I might even laugh.

Instead of saying Never Check Email in the  Morning, I am going to say to myself  ” Can you stand to be alone for awhile?” Can you keep the faith that the world will be OK without you for awhile? Will you turn off that bell on your computer that alerts you to the arrival of another e-mail?

As I read further into Never Check Email In the Morning, Morgenstern lets up on her expectations and narrows the morning down to one hour. Can we wait one hour to check our email? We can try andl we’d better own up to the emotional needs and crutches that feed our constant checking as well.

Many of us do not have control over our mornings. Some of us have supervisors and colleagues who are standing by. I wonder if there is a way to help a supervisor understand that we will be more efficient and powerful if we wait until 12:01 PM to respond.

1 Comment

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One response to “E-ddiction

  1. Kirstin

    I have my own little theory on why we check e-mail so often, and I think it applies to FB too. It’s based on the concept of intermittent reward. If a lab rat gets a pellet (reward) every time he pushes a lever, he will learn to push the lever when he’s hungry. If he never gets a pellet for pushing the lever, he’ll eventually stop trying. But if he gets a pellet sometimes, the lever-pressing behavior will become almost obsessive. This works with dog training, and it’s the concept behind slot machines. Intermittent reward creates the strongest behavior pattern–far stronger than predictable reward.
    Checking e-mail is like pushing the lever for the pellet. Sometimes we get a little reward, usually we don’t, but the intermittent rewards reinforce the behavior. I have a larger theory of human (well, maybe not all humans, but mine anyway) behavior based on pellet seeking if anyone is interested in hearing it.

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