Do you have the email addiction problem? Are you anything like me and wake up with checking email, spend your day checking email and go to bed with, yes indeed, checking email?

I personally hate this habit of mine and I’ve been looking for a solution for a long time. Now there is a little online tool out called ‘Inbox Pause’, which simply removes your GMail emails from your inbox and put them in a special folder. When you unpause GMail it will be moved back to your inbox and you can check your email.

Why You Should Stop Checking Your Email

You’ve read this before, you’ve heard this before and you’ve thought about it before: Checking your email is not a good thing.

Checking Email is a Reaction, not an Action”

Look at the times you are the most productive, when you feel good about what you’ve done. There will be times when you processed your inbox, but the most rewarding times are when you created something or when you knowingly interacted with somebody. Responding to an email? Not so much.

The problem with email? You are busy, not productive.

Responding to email twice a day should be more than enough, right? Now, if it only was that simple. Most of the time you just check your email by habit, a habit you need to change.

Forming a Habit – Just that Easy?

After tweeting about Inbox Pause I got a reaction from a fellow lifehacker saying all this tool does is treating symptoms and people need to learn to just check their email twice a day.

I have to say, I agree with this guy. What Inbox Pause does is simply treating the symptoms of a problem I have (overchecking my email). I know the disease, I know the consequences from the disease, but still, I cannot put myself to stop checking my email.

As with physical activity, you need to train your brain. Habits are not formed by being aware of what you are doing (although it can help a lot), but by practice. By doing the same thing over and over again. By doing it everyday, not taking any cheat day.

I am doing this right now physically with an exercise routine I am trying out, but the past week I’ve been practicing with cutting down my email time as well. A mental exercise, and not an easy one.

Because checking email is a habit for me (I do it when I want to procrastinate or when I am bored) I need to be aware of the moments I check my email. When I go to the mailbox it is too late actually, I am already seeing the emails flowing in and read some subject lines. That is why Inbox Pause works for me, everytime I am going to my inbox I am reminded of a habit I want to form, without having the distraction of incoming email.

Symptom treatment? Probably, but a way to attack the underlying disease as well, in the long term.

How I Recommend you to Use Inbox Pause

Now, the implementation part. Three things I would recommend:

  • Try a full Pomodoro first. This can help you big time with concentration. Just pause your email for 2 hours and get work done using the pomodoro method.
  • Form the habit of checking your email twice a day. For instance around lunch time and somewhere in the evening. Those times should be enough. Urgent messages? People can call you right?
  • Use it as you want to. Choose the time blocks yourself. Maybe you want to use it for a silent weekend? For a couple of hours free to study. I am giving some advice here, but you are the one who should decide when to be emailed and when not.

Now: check out the tool! It is completely free and works for me :)

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