Can You Be Addicted to Email?

Marsha Egan
Marsha Egan

(KHNL) - Is e-mail, taking over your life? Believe it or not, many people are addicted or should we say, "e-dicted", to e-mailing and like other addictions, there is a 12-step program. Here to tell us about it, all the way from the East Coast is one of America s leading authorities on e-mail productivity, Marsha Egan.

MARVIN:  Good morning, Marsha.

MARSHA:  Good morning.

MARVIN:  Let's talk about how big of a problem is e-mail addiction?

MARSHA:  Well, that is a really good question because the experts will vary it from 2% to 10% of the emailing population could possibly be addicted or e-dicted as I call it.

MARVIN:  Is it truly an addiction if so, what are the symptoms?

MARSHA:  Well, whether it's an addiction or not people are spending a lot of time on emailing where they shouldn't be.  If it is an addiction, it's just like any other addiction where the symptons end up being people not having a great sense of what the world is really like, in other words, they walk in the door after work and go straight to their email instead of playing with their kids or instead of saying hello to their spouse or whatever it might be or getting up in the middle of the night to do email and there are a lot of people out there doing it.

MARVIN:  Other than needing to know what's through the email, what's the cause behind it and why you need to be in this 12-step program?

MARSHA:  Well there are a lot of different causes but what has happened between email is creating a reactivity.  Instead of people being proactive about doing their work, that little ding on the computer, it goes "ding"! and people go "whoa, I have got mail and I need to respond to it right away".   So if people have any kind of reactive personality, they will be attracted to that and the average amount of email that the middle to senior level executive today is getting is 140 emails so they're doing this (swing head) 140 times a day and they're being distracted from things.

MARVIN: Let's go over some of the steps in terms of getting over the addiction first of all, well admit you're an email addict.

MARSHA:  yes, exactly.  Some people will say that they don't think they have a problem.  But their parents or brothers or sisters and husbands will say to them, "yes you do".   And they'll say "no I don't" as they're looking at their blackberry.

MARVIN:  The nickname is "Crackberry" for a reason.

MARSHA:   That's exactly right.

MARVIN:  And they say "owning your email" what does that mean?

MARSHA:  Well, what we want to people to say is "I'm going to decide when I'm going to  check my email", instead of saying "it wants me to check it by that ding."  So you have to take a proactive approach to managing your email.

MARVIN: Managing your email, managing your life and lifestyle, how do you go about establishing your suggestion to regular times for checking emails and sticking to  that?

MARSHA: Well, that's exactly right.  A lot of people will check their email every 5 or 10 minutes they want to see which one of their new fans has just written to them.   What we try to get people to do is, believe it or not this is what gives people the shakes, we want them to check their email only 4 or 5 times a day.  Really, first thing in the morning, mid-morning, after lunch, not before lunch or it'll ruin your lunch, mid afternoon and just before you leave from work.

MARVIN:  I want to touch on one more and that is reduce the amount of email you receive, how do you do that?

MARSHA:  Well, A number 1, send less email.  Email begets email,  so the more email you send, the more you're going to get, and one of the things people are doing now is they're hiding behind their email which means they're sending an email when they really should have picked up the phone and call to resolve an issue.

MARVIN:  For those folks who are watching and they have a sense of "ooh, you're describing me, I'm an email addict".  What's the first thing that they need to do, contact you?  How do they get over the hump and get it going?

MARSHA:  Our website is Eganemailsolutions and there's all kinds of free resources there.  There's even a page on  "you know you're an email addict when..." for example when you name your kid, Google, you may have an addiction problem.

MARVIN:  (laughing) Thank you for joing us Marsha.

MARSHA:   Thank you for having me.