Are you a DUDD? Part 1: Email Obsession


Are you a DUDD? is a series of articles dealing with internet usage and the Christian life. It stands for Dude Under Digital Distraction (Ok we made that up and it applies to girls too) 🙂

For many people, multi-tasking is a necessary skill (Just ask any mom). In a typical office or school environment, information is being thrown at us from many different sources.  One of the primary sources of that information is still email.  While email and how we access it is evolving, the truth is that it’s not going anywhere in the near future. It will continue to be a main channel of communication.  The problem is that email is no longer simply about receiving information that matters.  We are flooded with a mix of pertinent, irrelevant and flat out useless emails.  Our task, and it’s often a tough one, is to wade through the haze and pull out what we really need to do our work effectively.

Someone has coined the phrase “Email Obsession Syndrome” to express what many of us deal with. As soon as we hear our phones beep or Outlook chime at us, we stop whatever we are doing to check and see what’s come in. It’s like going out to the mail box at the end of the driveway every time we hear a car drive by. We are just so curious that we can’t stand wondering what piece of info might be sitting there waiting for us to discover. It’s even more of a struggle when we carry our email around with us in our pockets.

Another issue with all of the emails that come in is that many of the emails, while harmless, lead us to other media that can waste our time. It’s hard for us to ignore the many requests from friends or companies to look at the latest product or watch a cool video or check out an awesome website. Before long, the task that we had started and should have taken us 30 minutes is still sitting undone several hours later.

So what is the solution? I don’t think there is a specific answer, but here are a few things that have really helped me cut down on the distraction of the email flood.

    1. Open your email program only at certain times. I learned this from a colleague a few years ago and it’s a great practice. If your email program is open all the time you are going to be tempted to check every email as it comes in. Open your program only once every 2 or 3 hours. That way you are designating a good chunk of time to get tasks completed.
    2. File the emails you want to check out. Your aunt sends you some really cute pictures of her grandkids. That’s great and sweet.  But instead of looking at those pics right away and taking up 15 minutes of your time, move them to a folder that you can go through later when work (or your task at hand) is finished.
    3. Turn off email notification on your phone. If you are using your phone to read email then turn off the notifications. That way you won’t be tempted to check your email every time it beeps at you. Again set a reasonable amount of time to check your email.
    4. Give it a break when you are not working.  This relates to #3 but goes beyond that. When you are out in your car, at the mall, a friend’s house, your local church or relaxing at home don’t let the email obsession take over. We all have a false sense of urgency – like getting an email is the same as getting an emergency call. Just chill out and let the email stay unchecked until you are at home.

The bottom line is that we need to find ways to de-stress and balance our lives better.  Checking every email as it comes in, when it comes in, can cause a chaos that is hard to control. Take measures to lessen that chaos by being smart about email use.  Don’t be a DUDD!

What ways have you handled email obsession?  We’d love to hear.


Read the next post in this series: Are You A DUDD? Part 2 Facebook Addiction


One comment

  1. Thanks for your helpful tips. It is all too easy (for me at least) to become digitally distracted. I must remind myself constantly not to let technology control me. Point 4 “give it a break” is excellent advice, my family hates it when I pull out phone and reply to an email when we are on a family outing.