Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

the black hole of email

I had dinner with some friends tonight, and we were talking about time management. That may sound strange - well, it's mainly because I brought up the subject because I've been struggling so much with it. One of the people there was a novelist who worked out of his home. I asked him about his work day and how he scheduled it. He said that he checks email twice a day - in the morning and in the afternoon. Another woman at the table said she checks hers just once a day.

I think that one of the reasons I have so much trouble getting stuff done - even simple stuff like getting out of the apartment in the morning - is because I check email constantly. I'm turning off the automatic checker, and starting tomorrow I'm going to check email just twice a day.

One of my time management books says not to check email at all in the morning, but I don't think I can bring myself not to do that.

Does anyone else here lose hours and hours of their life in email?

like the phone ringing every five minutes

One of the people I had dinner with last night commented that checking your email every five minutes is like having the phone ring every five minutes. This is true! No wonder I have such trouble getting stuff done!!!!

Another habit to lose... the habit of checking your e-mail anyway after you turn off your e-mail notifications. When I turned off notifications (a long time ago), I found myself checking in anyway, to see if I was missing something.

It may take a while to get out of the habit of keeping an eye on your e-mail, but it's worth it. Reducing interruptions is a great way to improve productivity by improving focus.


removing interruptions

I've been doing well with my email today. I didn't check it until about 20 minutes ago, then I handled it and now I'll stop checking it again.

There have been studies recently showing that the most efficient way to work is one thing at a time - no multitasking, no interruptions. I'm going to start paying close attention to this. I think it's a major element in my time management problems.


Yep. this is one of my habits. On bad days, I even press the send/receive button sometimes to try and pull in a distraction despite the fact my email program is set to check every 5 minutes anyway!

If you're running late, the temptation to pick up and deal with a few work emails before leaving the house to go to the office is quite high. This is a big time-thief for me.

I find with the internet that when I'm not doing anything purposeful I have a cycle of activities that I keep going around and around. I check a news site, then check the forums I post to (there's about 3 regular ones), then I might check a couple of links posted on the forums, then some other specialist news sites, Arts and Letters Daily, then back to email. By the end of all that (especially the first time around), it's usually about twenty minutes later, so I can start the sequence again from the beginning to see if there's anything new on any of the sites. On bad days, I find myself whizzing around the cycle every 5 minutes or so, even though I start to recognise that I could stop and leave it for a few hours and not miss anything.

Me too

I definitely have a loop of email, web sites and stuff that I go through when I'm wasting time.

I've tried only checking email a couple times a day, but where I work people seem to expect you to read emails right away. For example, they will send out an impromptu meeting notice via email 20 min before a meeting and the be surprised if you don't show up. :O Actually, I find this quite annoying... if you want me to do something right away, call me. Still, I would be better off checking email every 30-60 minutes instead of constantly checking.

yup! that's just what I do!!!!

I do exactly like you. I have Outlook set to check email every five minutes, and I still press Send and Receive!

I've been awake for 8 minutes so far today, and I have not checked email. That may sound trivial, but for me it's actually big. I'm going to work very seriously on overcoming my email addiction. I think it's a major reason I have so much trouble getting anything else done.


That's EXACTLY what I do!!!!!!!!!!! ALL OF IT!!!

We are all very similar, aren't we?!

OK with Email now but not Boards

I used to be checking it a lot, and I realised I was losing a lot of time over it, so I made it part of my regular routines, and I ~only~ check it a) during a routine b) during recreation time

I've set up filters so things go into appropriate folders - I don't even see the Email (reduces temptation) until it's time to look in that folder. I check my Email in the morning after I've got the other stuff done - get rid of spam, put non-urgent stuff in folders (I've got a @Someday/Maybe folder a la David Allen), then I decide when I'm going to deal with the rest and put reminders on them. I don't deal with them then unless they're urgent, or I have time to spare. It's working really well for me, and Email seems to be fairly well managed (I used to be able to empty my in-box each day, but that's fallen by the wayside).

Boards are a different thing - I've got two boards I'm active on. This one and the SHEsInTouch Board. Others I check are slow movers and don't take much time. These are more difficult to handle, because they are a huge help to me, yet at the same time I can overdo it. For example, this morning I've spent over 1 1/2 hours just CUOP and posting - that's just one thread on SHEs and this board. That's too much. I try the timer but I just ignore it.

I think part of the problem is that as they're support groups I feel I need to comment on other people's posts - I can't expect support from others if I don't give it. Some days the support isn't forthcoming (people busy on their own Section Bookends, or not much posting) and I sometimes find it demotivating, so on the one hand I like to encourage mutual support, but I know at the same time it can be a time sink. I also like to read other posts for ideas and to see if I can identify patterns of behaviour that might apply to my own situation.

I just don't seem to have found the balance yet.

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I am a serial email-checker. I use it as a distraction and an avoidance technique. I'm well aware of it.

I also crave contact with people, and love to send and receive emails.

I think that most of the answers you will get to this will be a resounding YES!!!!!! After all, we are procrasinators and it's a perfect avoidance technique.

Okay, I'm with you on this one - it's a great idea. I'm also going to make some set times to check emails and stick to it. Let's control our email, not the other way around!!!!!

I'm going to apply the same principle to this site - checking and posting at only fixed times, not ducking in every 15 minutes!!

LET'S DO IT!!!!!!


Forgot I wasn't meant to be checking the site yet..

That's my fault, I didn't set my predetermined time yet.

Okay, not coming here until 9:45pm. That will be when I wind up working, and is in 90 minutes time.

Let's see how I go!!!!!!

this site is my exception

I can't limit myself on this site. I'm holding on for dear life here!! I will not check email or other sites, but I'm posting here and checking for messages here.

I don't use this site to procrastinate. I really do use it to get stuff done, and it works for me. I think I get lonely working alone in my apartment, and I need the connection. At least this connection keeps me on track.

email addiction

I'm going to find it VERY HARD not to check my email constantly all day long. I can't even not check it this evening. This is going to be a major withdrawal for me.

I'm not going to limit my time on this site. I haven't been using this site to procrastinate - it's been helping me, making me much more productive. And for my email problem, it will be like methadone to my usual heroin.


Good points. I might be the same!