What do Emails and the Lottery have in Common?
Something strange has happened in the last 10 years.
We’ve all become addicted to email.
If your immediate reaction is “no way! I’m not addicted to my emails!” then read on.
How many times a day do you check emails?
15? 30? 50?
Actually, it’s 74 times per day (on average), according to a study by the Wall Street Journal.
The average employee spends a staggering 28% of their workday on email.
People check their work emails at home, and their personal emails at work.
- They check them while they’re eating.
- They check them whilst walking between the station and their workplace.
- They check them laying in bed before going to sleep, and when waking up.
- They check them on the toilet.
- They check them on holiday.
Some people even check their emails while driving, even though they know that this carries the risk of killing themselves, killing somebody else, or serving prison time.
Still think you’re not addicted?
Searching For the Miracle Email
Nancy Colier, a Psychotherapist and author of “Getting Out of Your Own Way”, says that email triggers the “lottery brain“.
Every time we check our email, a part of our brain is hoping to see the “lottery email” – a message from an old sweetheart, news of a windfall of money, a perfect career opportunity, etc.
The “lottery brain” is the part of the brain that produces the belief that miracles can happen to us, and it drives us to compulsively check our emails.
This part of the brain is extremely prone to addiction. The fact that checking our email every 10 minutes doesn’t result in finding the “lottery email” does not result in us checking it less when the email we’re hoping to see is not there, because miracles can happen.
Further to this, a study by the Guardian also found that the same learning mechanisms that drive gambling addicts are also at work in email users.
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Reactive Mode and Productivity Impacts
Every time a notification displays, what percentage of the time do you check it straight away?
This interrupts your flow, meaning you have to spend time refocusing on your more important task. The interruption is rarely worthwhile.
It has even been found that the constant notifications are a “toxic source of stress“, yet many of us can’t bring ourselves to close our email program.
What to do Instead
We could all be more productive and reduce our stress levels if we limited the amount of time we check email to just three or four times per day.
Better yet, instead of “checking” email, and then not doing anything with them, we should process email at set points in the day. At the end of the email processing blocks, we should have NO emails in our inbox.
This results in:
- The ability to switch off all emails for a while, safe in the knowledge that you’re caught up.
- Get some productive work done with no distractions!
- Lower stress levels.
- Reduce email addiction.
- Stop hanging on to emails, cluttering up your inbox but doing nothing with them.
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