Reducing eMail distractions

Email’s immediacy, combined with the thrill of the unknown, is like heroin to an ADD type.  This makes email distractions all that much more difficult to deal with.  To say the thrill of the unknown may sound dramatic, but email is like a drip feed of little surprises that we love to put ourselves in the way of.  ADD types are like this with the Internet in general-putting us in front of a computer and the web and asking us to stay on one boring task.  Yeah, that’s a very strategically sound plan.  Like an alcoholic running a bar and being told not to drink.

But I digress.  This is about email distrations.  You may have multiple email accounts.  You may have a blackberry.  You may be so totally plugged in that the idea of reducing email distractions seems impossible- at least without cutting off your information supply – good along with bad.  However, it can be done.

This particular advice follows Ben Franklin’s ‘ounce of prevention’ concept.  If you get less email, you’re less distracted by it, at least from the perspective of the number of things you have to deal with.  Remember, for ADD/ADHD types, the overhead associated with dealing with an email is toxic – it’s not just the 5 seconds of dealing with the email itself (even though it’s almost never 5 seconds).

Bottom line:

Cut your subscriptions.

This doesn’t have to be done all at once, and probably can’t.  But take every opportunity to unsubscribe to outdated or non-useful subscriptions.  Remember, you surf and search like a demon anyway, if you want it, you can find it.

If you can’t make yourself unsubscribe fully from email distractions (subscriptions) that have multiple feeds (like organic gardening, saving electricity and something else) at least reduce it.  You’ll have another opportunity to reduce/eliminate it later.

If you can’t find how to cancel it, create a filter and have it go automatically into a folder or archive under the label ‘ignorable subscriptions’.  Do it.  This is sometimes easier to swallow because it’s not ‘gone’, (for the digital pack rat).


If you have a bunch of filters, you may find that the emails slip past your desk email distraction station but still hit your mobile.  Either set up separate filters for your phone or kill the subscription already.

I’ve been doing this for a few weeks.  I can already sense the lighter email load and I like it.  I’m also still schocked at how many are still coming through.  I’m choosing to interpret this as even more reason to continue.


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