I’ve been trying to write for days, on a number of newsworthy topics, but am having a problem that I think some of you may share so I’m going to make that the topic instead.
It’s not Internet “addiction” (which John has debunked many times) but it does feel a bit compulsive and is definitely interfering with life lately. It’s my email. There’s simply too much of it, and it feels like every message brings work or followup so I just get more and more bogged down. Today I spent two hours on it and have still not caught up.
I’m not talking about nice, personal emails from friends and family; no, they’re always welcome. Instead it’s articles that arrive and need reading/skimming, subscriptions, updates, table of contents notifications, a couple of lists, and various links sent to me. There simply seems to be no way to keep up with the volume. It’s not all work, either, there are a few webcomics and things that are a fun diversion – usually. Not now, not when my mood is slumping and procrastination is stressful.
Okay, so having identified the problem, how to handle it? I’ve been unsubscribing from some stuff and deleting many messages unread. I’ve made an organized to-do list. I wake up and think, okay, I’ll calmly sit and concentrate on writing, and catch up. I start, but then Gmail notifies me of every message that arrives and I get distracted. I’ve been trying to disable it without success. I’m not signed into Yahoo or IM, for that reason, and deleted Facebook’s mobile app (too many txt msgs). I declared email bankruptcy in one account. I’m trying to focus but these constant distractions get in the way and I can’t seem to ignore them. That’s the part that feels compulsive. Some days I take the desperate measure of staying offline entirely. That isn’t practical, though, when there’s research needed.
I used to get stuck in search holes (Googling things and following link after link after link endlessly, seemingly falling into a black hole) but was able to stop doing it. What do I do about this? I can’t totally ignore my email. Things need doing. I just wish it wasn’t such a demanding and draining barrage – or is that just my perception? Does anyone else suffer like this, and if so, how do you cope?