September 28, 2009
How often do you check your email per day?
Does checking your email make you more productive or less productive?
Oh, sure, we delude ourselves into thinking we're being extra-productive by obsessively checking and responding to our email, but in reality we're attending too frequently to our own desire for gratification and sabotaging our own productivity in the process.
As Dan Ariely explains in a postscript to Predictably Irrational, he smells a rat, and so should you:
Skinner distinguished between fixed-ratio schedules of reinforcement and variable-ratio schedules of reinforcement. Under a fixed schedule, a rat received a reward of food after it pressed the lever a fixed number of times -- say 100 times. Under the variable schedule, the rat earned a food pellet after it pressed the lever a random number of times. Sometimes it would receive the food pellet after pressing 10 times, and sometimes after pressing 200 times.
Under the variable schedule of reinforcement, the arrival of the reward is unpredictable. On the face of it, one might expect that the fixed schedules of reinforcement would be more motivating and rewarding because the rat can learn to predict the outcome of his work. Instead, Skinner found that the variable schedules were actually more motivating. The most telling result was that when the rewards ceased, the rats who were under the fixed schedule stopped working almost immediately, but those under the variable schedules kept working for a very long time.
If this reminds you of gambling, that's because gambling explicitly works under the very same schedule of variable reinforcement.
Go ahead, pull the "new email' lever. Take a chance. Most of the time you'll end up a loser, the proud recipient of yet another spam email, a press release you don't care about, or some irrelevant conversation someone has cc:ed you into. But not always. There are those rare few times when you'll hit the jackpot: you'll get an important bit of information you needed, or tentative contact from a long lost friend or associate, or other good news.
We're so ecstatic to get that single useful email out of hundreds that we can't keep ourselves from compulsively pressing the new email lever over and over and over, hoping it will happen again soon, like the caged rats in Skinners' experiments.
We desperately need to ask ourselves, and those around us, to revisit the purpose of email. Given what we know about the importance of flow to productive work, and how multi-tasking is largely a myth, is it worth the constant stream of minor interruptions?
We've overloaded email with so many meanings that it has imploded as a communication medium. Need an urgent answer to your question within a few minutes? Fire off a quick email and demand a response! Want to have a long back and forth discussion with several people? Email everyone! Do you have a new theory that you desperately want to explain to someone? Send it to them via email! Got a funny joke or picture you're dying to share? Email it to the office alias!
When we treat email as the kitchen sink of communication, appropriate for everything, it simply ceases to work at all.
Kathy Sierra was concerned that Twitter had the same variable reinforcement problem, but I think Twitter is in fact part of the answer to the problem.
Stop. Sending. Email.
Instead of abusing email as a "one size fits all" conduit for communication, be smart. Know when to escalate your communication to the right medium for the particular message you're trying to deliver:
- Broad kudos? Post it on a feedback forum or your blog.
- Need an urgent, immediate answer? Pick up the phone and call.
- Got something that needs a lot of touchy feely discussion? Set up a face to face meeting.
- Discussing a particular topic or product? Post it on a public message board.
- Is this more of a friendly, social thing? Try using a social network like Twitter or Facebook.
- Business proposal? Perhaps it would be smart to approach indirectly, through soliciting recommendations of business associates.
The real solution here is to move people beyond email silos wherever and whenever possible. Some amount of email is still inevitable, though. What steps can we take to turn our email from a dangerous variable reinforcement machine to something more Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ sane? Predictable, even?
- Turn off all notification and interruption features in your email client.
- Only check your email at regular, scheduled intervals.
- Set up your email client to automatically highlight those emails from friends and business associates who are historically known to send you useful email.
Before you send that next email -- or press the "retrieve mail" button again -- ask yourself: do I smell a rat?
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I noticed this email vs. productivity dilemma some years ago, with office staff constantly interrupting their work to respond to email pings. Back then our office was connected to a remote mail server by dial up ISDN, set to send and receive all emails on demand, resulting in a huge phone bill. To reduce the phone bill I set the dial up to fetch and send email only once every two hours. Result: Productivity increased, staff were not distracted and, interestingly, no one noticed their emails were not instant.
Unfortunately, as soon as we changed over to permanent DSL the staff became email junkies. Now with Facebook and Twitter the distraction of 'random reward' is just too much!!
I don't really feel that email disturbs me - as my toolbar notifier alerts me when something relevant pops in. That said, it IS possible to spend entirely too much time reading/writing mail.
This is the equivalent of doing work about doing work - without actually doing the work! ;)
Email is awesome.
Shame about the spam, limited (and variable length) attachments, and lack of guaranteed delivery, but hey, it's for the most part free, and for the most part it's pretty cool (esp if you use Google Mail). Oh, and shame about the viruses too (thanks MS)
All that and it can still snake down a 7-bit pathway, the equivalent of a path through the forest.
First, who constantly presses the send/receive button?
Second, who presses the send/receive button all the time?
Seriously - every mail client I can recall using in the past decade or more autochecks every X many minutes (configurable). The web-based ones do, too - either via AJAX or because you open a mail and then go back to Inbox, showing whether anything has come in the last 30 seconds.
The only time I ever check my email intentionally is when I'm expecting a specific message to appear - for example, from my fiancee :)
Otherwise, it's open all day in the background with either the little mail icon in the tray when a new message appears, or as a tab in my browser that I switch to periodically (or not, if I forget). Maybe there are people who impulsively check their email all day instead of doing work, but I've never met any who aren't quite a ways up in the management strata where their "work" *IS* reading and writing email.
It makes my life alot easier. It's exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks guys, keep up the good work!
Email has completely surpassed our expectations. I didn't even need training. The very best.
Wow, Jeff, you have hit a nerve here. I think that some of us aren't ready to give up the delusion.
I think people who are going on about "who hits the send/receive button nowadays anymore??" are missing the point. Obviously nobody really does that anymore. Rather, most email clients have a task tray alert to tell you when new email arrives. However, this has just shifted the problem around: when that task tray icon flashes, you still feel tempted to go check what the new email is about. This means that instead of the variable reward being a question of "has new email come in?", it is now a question of "is the new email useful to me?". You hit a mini-jackpot when it's useful, but you waste your time (and break your train of thought) for the N other times when it's some useless bit of info.
I mentioned before (in a previous comment) that I was going to turn off my task tray email notification, which I did this morning. I definitely feel like I was less distracted at work. I will see how it goes over the next few days, but I think I might be on my way to breaking the lever-pull habit.
Stop. Writing. Useless. Blogs.
@Eric: There is no delusion, I spend about 10 minutes emailing in a week.
I have no Twitter, I have no Facebook.
The people I care about are a 10 minute drive from home (max) and I see them almost every week.
Wow... a week without an article and then this is what we get? I expected a lot better, this just feels lazy.
I hope you don't make money of writing articles like this because it's not fair if you do. Very very weak.
Well, my neurotic e-mail checking got rewarded last night.
SE beta invitation. :)
Pen and paper works for me...
There is something about writing with a pen and paper, yes an old fashioned fountain pen vs typing.
I find that if I write it vs type it, the content is always much better. It seems that writing gives me enough time to think about what I am saying before well, I say it.
Too bad, it will be lost art far sooner than one might think...
I am surprised but gladdened that they are still teaching first graders handwriting.
When the go to teaching typing in grade 1 then it's over for writing, too bad...
I like the "right tool for the right job" idea.
Do you need an answer, or something done right now? Then don't email me (because I might have email turned off, or be in a meeting, or otherwise just not see it), and then complain when it's not done. Call - you'll get immediate feedback on what your results are going to be (or if I'm unavailable and thus not doing it).
Twitter/IM, I find, is useful as a halfway between phone (immediate response required) and email (answer in a few hours or next day). You know I saw it, but I can finish my current thought before replying.
Great point about the email. Though, i think its slightly blown out of proportion. The real reason im Commenting though is to ask, Why no updates for like a month? sorry, just curious. i think everyone is.
I tend to disagree with some parts of your post. Which age are we talking about pressing a receive email button to see new email?
Checking email is often a habitual. Being organized with email is the most essential I learnt over time as its everyday mess that I have clean up regularly and not do it too often that it impacts a lot on productivity.
Distributing your communication to multiple resources like twitter, blogs has also its pros and cons. All this while, your single source of information was email. When you distribute it, you organize the information well but you also spend more time managing it which is the hind side.
I used to love your blog, but WTF have you written lately? Maybe time to start coding again?
I read it, I read it again.. considered reading it again but simply stated out loud; "Jeff, that's just a load of crap". No constructional feedback here. Just crap.
"There is no delusion"
That's quite a universal negative. Are you sure that none of the 100 commenters is feeling defensive about spending an hour a day on email?
I don't have facebook or twitter either, but I took Jeff's post as a useful reminder to evaluate how much I'm investing in blogs and email. I don't live in the world where no one ever needs to evaluate his behavior. (It must be an interesting place, though.)
A tale told by an idiot, full of sound of fury, signifying nothing.
There are clearly different views on what constitutes the better medium for various kinds of communication. For professional purposes, personally I am oh-so-firmly in the e-mail camp; set aside "touchy-feely" subjects (of which there aren't officially that many, in my very geeky workplace), then I would say for just about everything else, e-mail is my tool of choice: For the freedom it normally affords me, to schedule and author a complete and accurate response.
But I have colleagues here who seem to hate e-mails that contain more than one or two lines of information, and insist that a meeting is required if the subject gets more complicated. These people cannot be convinced that e-mail can also be valuable as a documentation tool, a way to track multiple threads and items in a complex matter. These people will instead call a spontaneous meeting (or phone call) and expect participants to come up with well-considered answers to these questions, verbally, FTF, IRL, Real time. Well my brain doesn't work like that. To answer an even mildly complex technical question, I need time and quiet to check and summarize facts, and to draw conclusions or generate follow-up questions. I'm generally unable to do this while on the phone or in a meeting. And this is what most of my professional responsibility is about: Coming up with technically sound ideas and solutions. So for _my_ job, I would say nothing I know of beats e-mail as primary communication channel.
I'm wondering if you are feeling guilty about the success of SO. First you wrote about digital sharecroppers, and now variable-reinforcement.
Variable-reinforcement is the chain that keeps StackOverflow's sharecroppers supplying free content.
(Let me check again, maybe I'll find the question that verifies my expertise in a certain obscure domain . . . Jackpot! My life has meaning!)
I'm very thankful for SO, it has been very useful to me. And it is driven by self-gratification. But I don't think it is wrong to use the natural selfish desires to promote what is basically good.
Keep it up.
I would say that this very blog is also a Variable Reinforcement Machine. Did Jeff post something new? Did anyone answer my comment? I cannot count the times I come here and press refresh in a day just to see if there is something new. Should I stop reading this blog to improve my productivity?
But here is the catch: since I started reading your blog my productivity increased a lot! There is a lot of info here that I would not have found by myself. My programming skills are way better and my understanding of the technological world is increasing with each passing day. Even my english is better (I'm french-canadian).
My point is this: blogs, emails, phones are tools that are meant to increase productivity and facilitate communications. The way we use them is entirely up to us.
It's so easy to check you email though. And read it for hours.
I just realized I check this blog much more frequently than my e-mail.
So the time wasted on checking email will now be replaced by wasting even more time on blogging, posting on a message board, logging into Facebook and twittering.
I think overall the message here is good and, for me at least, it applies at my organization. Depending on the project you are on you can get a *lot* of email that doesn't concern you one bit. Right now I have 3 different filters to not even allow these types of email to even grace my inbox.
Furthermore, there are a lot of people that feel every email they write they need to copy the tech lead of the project into them. This results in an overloaded tech lead (as for as email is concerned) who basically doesn't parse his email until about a day later. The result is the absolute destruction of email as a useful tool.
Personally I believe in phones. I think it is the number 1 most underutilized tool in (probably many) companies. To the people who stated they don't like getting phone calls because they like having time to respond, you either A: Need to learn more so you know what you're talking about and can respond in a timely confident manner or B: Communicate to your superior that you're so busy you can't even respond to phone calls.
I think communicating up when you've got too much to do is also one of the most underutilized skills in our field. People must think they'll get fired if they can't juggle 100 balls at a time. When really any manager worth his weight in salt will respect that they are being mature and communicating that there is just too much.
Getting work done is all about having that "perfect" amount to do. Overwhelm yourself and you'll spend all your time spinning wheels - and that applies even as tech leads, PM's and managers.
Then again, what do i know, I'm just a youngin.
You have an incomplete understanding of variable ratio/variable interval reinforcement. When you say that you have a variable ratio or interval reinforcement schedule, it means that you get the same number of reinforcers as you would with a fixed ratio or fixed interval reinforcement schedule, but the time or number of responses between each reinforcer varies.
If you assume that the time to the next email you receive is an exponentially distributed random variable with a low lambda parameter, then email would probably approximate a differential reinforcement of low response rate schedule, because regardless of when you check, the expected time to the next email is the same (1/lambda). In a true DRL schedule, if you respond too soon, the countdown until you can receive the next reinforcer is reset.
This is all very silly. My email setup checks often, and makes a small "clink" sound when I get new email. Nothing pops up or steals focus. When I'm not busy I flip over and see what's there when something arrives. When I'm in flow, or even starting to get into flow, I barely notice or don't notice at all. The email will still be there when I take a break.
And... I am not alone.
This might be your productivity problems, but it's not mine. It's not email's fault. It's not the sender's fault. It's your fault. If you want to get rid of things that lower your productivity then own your own problems. For you that might mean shutting down your email client and only checking at certain times of day, or not even installing email on a machine that you dedicate to working, and have email on a surf/email/social laptop. But I don't need to do this.
you have a problem to change focus fast, don't think everybody needs 15 minutes to get back to work.
Think abut that. nearly every 15 minutes you should change possition, sit activly and so on. does that too get you out of your flow or can you only work in a room where noone is breathing?
We've known for a while that email has become rather 'broken' due to the large number of useless emails that demand our attention- spam, chain forwards, one word replies, newsletters etc. As a web developer and business person I have around 10 email accounts in active use. Must be a nightmare right? Well I have a 'plan' that is working pretty well for me:
- I have a few 'throw away' accounts used to sign up at websites, etc. These are gmail accounts using Google's fantastic spam filters.
- I'm selective about who I give my email address too- though this does not seem to stop friends from submitting my email to sites via the "share this with a friend" feature so I still get spam.
- I jack up my spam filtering as high as I can without false positives.
- All my email accounts forward copies to one single webmail account which is the only one I have to log into and check during the day. The others are downloaded to Thunderbird when I get home.
- I put a PHP script in my homepage that tells me how many new messages I have to save me from logging in when there's no new emails in there.
- I actively ask people who send me random forwards to stop it please.
- I almost never sign up for newsletters- I use RSS feeds instead.
- I try to only check my mail if I'm expecting something or have several new messages, not just one.
- I clear out my inboxes as well as I can.
- I told Facebook to stop emailing me except for new messages replies.
Thanks in big part to Gmail's filtering and my own strict protection of my addresses I have been getting very little spam lately. Most of my friends use Facebook b/c their own email addresses are so spammy. Also if you ask people to stop forwarding you kitten pictures or whatever they usually will - though I ask three times, then I block them.
So email is not too bad if you manage it right- but all this rigamarole is quite a pain in the neck. At the minimum everyone should have a personal and a work address so that you don't get to much distracting cruft to you work email. Then when you are focused on work- don't check the personal account.
Sadly though I think something needs to change soon or spam will kill off email soon.
(PS- I ordered some Coding Horror stickers a week ago but didn't get an email from you, only the PayPal confirmation. How long do these take to be mailed to Canada?)
Who's kool-aid are you drinking these days? This is really grasping at straws.
My thesis advisor has this note in regards to contacting him:
By design, email is delivered to me on the hour, to avoid interruptions. You may circumvent this mechanism, if necessary, by including the word "urgent" in the subject line. "
It always seemed like a good practice to make it so your mail delivery agent only let new e-mails get to you once an hour so as to prevent these sort of distractions.
I can't believe there are still people who don't have an automatic email notifier. I never waste time checking my mail, because I don't check my mail unless I have mail.
A good craftsman never blames his tools
Jeff didn't answer... sigh.
Sure he's got a stack overflow error inside his brain ;-)
Jeff must have a reason to explain why he prefers checking email manually, at variable intervals, instead of an exactly scheduled email notifier (other reason than rat's, I mean).
Perhaps Jeff is human, and he reserves the right to somtimes do some things in the least effective way (but funniest for him).
Substitute "email" for "facebook" or "codinghorror" and you've got an equally compelling post.
*sigh* codinghorror == ghost town these days.
I sacked email almost completely about 6 months ago. If someone needs to contact me, there's the phone. I found the intermittent interruptions too much to handle.
If you send the link for the Courier New 5.00 font (bundled with Windows Vista) download from Rapidshare, it will be OK?
Definitely sick of lame collegues who use email as a stage to communicate rather than picking up a phone to actually communicate. People who hide behind emails are weak.
>>>Email is an efficient form of communications. Email causes people to think before they respond
Wrong, if you think email is a primary form of communication it means you lack communication skills.
If you run your mouth without thinking, you're an unprofessional idiot.
I just setup my email to beep when there is something addressed specifically to me.
Email is an efficient form of communications. Email causes people to think before they respond. At least more so than they do in face-to-face meetings where they often run their mouth without thinking. People tend not to say any more than necessary in email. And they are careful, knowing there is a written record of what they said. They review what they have to say before they send it, which of often not the case in oral communications. Also, with email only one person can "talk" at time. Everyone has to wait for the talker to finish before they can respond. This is frequently not the case in oral conversation. People just open their mouth and let it fly whenever the urge hits them. Even if someone else is talking.
I think you became an e-mail addict and that is the source of your problem. I check my e-mail once a day or less and don't feel any urge to do it more often.
Jeff accidently his blog.
I love your writing...
But not about when to check my e-mail.
And please for the sake of sanity, may your next article not be about when the apropriate time is to take a stool.
Where's the coding horror?
This post has changed the way I work forever.
No longer am I a slave changed to the shackle of glancing at my taskbar for Outlook notification and instead I have freed myself and am zealously leading the way forward by evenly spreading all of my communication via facebook, twitter, myspace, text message, bebo, IRC, ICQ, MSN and my blog.
If I could find a spare 30 seconds at any point this month to nominate you for a Nobel, I would.
I used to be addicted to this blog, but the frequency of postings has helped me curb my addiction... thankfully, I still have email to keep me fully distracted at work :P
Maybe Jeff is just out of topics... Here are a few areas that could use more coverage:
- Database Programming and common problems.
- What ever happened to Borland compilers and Delphi??? I made a good living writing Delphi apps.
- Why is it so hard to find someone with critical reasoning and creative problem solving skills? Are these skills that can be taught?
- How did you jump from "Orange" to the new Captcha that "I" can't even read???
I don't ever use email, so therefore I don't ever have this problem. OK
Funny to see such an angry response from many of the people commenting here.
Have any of you tried shutting down your e-mail? For a couple hours at a time to see if you are any more productive?
E-mail pops up in your face and screams out 'I NEED ATTENTION NOW', which for most of us distracts us from what we're doing. Especially, when we think "it's just a quick reply".
This Website: The Variable Reinforcement Machine.
Variable reinforcement is one of the reasons why we like to be surprised with gifts. If you give your family, friends or customers a thoughtful gift out of the blue, it increases the value of the gift. In fact, they will probably appreciate it even more than, say, a birthday gift.
That is, as long as you can convince them there are no strings attached.
And you are right, since your last post on the blog, I've been checking constantly your blog, waiting for a reward (a new post).
How often do you check codinghorror to see if there's a new post?
Does checking codinghorror to see if there's a new post make you more productive or less productive?
I really REALLY agree with this post. Yet I understand the point of the people who do not. I think this is a good reference as to why there is such polarization in the comments:
Some people's life depends on constant communication and availability. Managers, PR, sales, etc. Some other people though, really REALLY need to turn off all sources of information so that they can focus on one task at a time and get into a "flow" working state.
I think email is a great tool, but it has created a culture of immediacy thats really hard to keep up with. Used well: it's a blessing. But it really can be a detriment for productivity in some cases. :-) Checking email twice a day SHOULD be enough. If people need an answer sooner than that, they should just pick up the phone.
I find myself checking this blog hoping for something new, in much the same way.
Your posts are sounding more and more like tabloid headlines - "Boy with 3 heads born to teen mother!" "Real monster found in Loch Ness!" "email causes cancer!".
If I had written your latest blog entries in the middle of some euphoric "Aha" moment about some topic such as email being overused, I would undoubtedly regret it afterward and delete such sensationalistic drivel.
Where is the codinghorror Jeff?
I pay my DSL 50 bucks a month, so I expect new content from you.
Are you not getting paid from those 50 bucks?
New content. please. Now off to check my email.
Another story about Coding Horror, this time from me. I used to read this blog very often, I was amazed how new posts appeared almost every other day.
However, September is the wosrt month ever. Three posts! And no posts in October so far. What happened, Jeff? I hope that's not some kind of problems with your job or with your little spawned process.
Hey - it's just like checking in at Coding Horror to see if there is a new article posted. I should probably just add this to my RSS feed - but them I'm looking at that sucker every 5 minutes hoping something new pops up...
I think the issue here is a purely push vs pull situation. We don't want things shoved in our faces all the time, but it's also not productive to have to go look for new items. Not sure about the solution to this - I think that many of our systems these days have these issues. Mobile phones and IM can chime in at the worst moments, yet having to check Facebook for updates is a hassle. I think it's fun that we've arrived at a point where *this* is the sort of thing we complain about. It wasn't too long ago that even receiving an email was a miracle.
All those mourning the death of the Coding Horror blog really should follow @codinghorror on Twitter. You get all the well reasoned content of an average blog post, condensed into 140 characters, without the random giant pictures. To give you some idea of what you're missing here are a couple of micro blogs from the past 24 hours:
" vs. : is shorter so it wins by default. Not that arguing semantics isn't ALL kinds of fun."
"the prevalence of xml for build scripts is a wartime atrocity against programmers. unbelievably difficult to read.".
> Is this more of a friendly, social thing? Try using a social network like Twitter or Facebook.
Surely this is a joke? A friendly social conversation that (presumably) can't take place in person, and rather than vendor-independent email you recommend that these social relations should take place in a proprietary walled garden.
Twitter and Facebook are the *antithesis* of open social communication, and are a significant step backward from email.
Jeff... ever heard of e-mail filters?
First of all I have server side filters that put incoming mails into folders. One of them, the SPAM filter catches 90% of all SPAM and puts it into a SPAM folder, so I may have to deal with at most 10% of those. Why not deleting those at once? Not that I would ever look into the SPAM folder, but when I search for a certain e-mail, this search also covers the SPAM folder and if the mail accidentally ends up there, I have a chance of finding it. If the SPAM filter was deleting them immediately, it's lost. The server deletes all mails from the SPAM folder older than 30 days to keep the folder somewhat compact.
All other mails are categorized into folders according to filter criteria. E.g. is that is a mail from a friend, from a coworker, from a certain company? Personal mails from friends (usually chitchat) are strictly separated from work related mails. Also mails from certain companies (Paypal, eBay, etc.) have their own place to go. Some filter filter by from address, some by to address, some by subject (or parts of it) and some actually by certain key words found in the mail body. No filter is perfect, but my filter are more than 90% accurate. Ideally no mail should end up in the INBOX itself. If it does it basically means there is something wrong with one of my filters (that should have caught this mail) or maybe I need another filter (as there is no category for this mail and thus also no filter that puts it anywhere). So mails in my INBOX are always treated with high priority, as they mean I must modify my filters to avoid this kind of mail ends up there again in the future.
Server side filtering means I don't have to even catch my e-mails at regular intervals, they are filtered as they arrive and I will get the same filter result no matter if I connect to the IMAP server from work (with one e-mail client), from home (with another e-mail client), or via the web interface from anywhere in the world.
Now regarding interruptions, I have not told my e-mail client to turn on the red lights whenever there's an unread mail. I can have hundreds of unread mails, I don't care... that is, I don't care unless those are in specific folders. So additionally to the server side filters I have client side filters that will notify me, but again only if certain filter criteria are matched. E.g. I will not get notified because some friend as sent me the joke of the day. But I will get notified if my boss reports a problem with our software for example.
As with most communication, the problem is not the communication itself, but how you make use of it!
I argue for the subject just as you.
Since concentration is lost when we work preemptively,
it is totally not worth doing that ,
instead people should determine periodical checking of e-mails ,
For instance, i check mine one time every 3 hours which even most of
the time disappoints me with no crucial mail .
Surprised by the number of commenters that just don't get it.
> We're so ecstatic to get that single useful email out of hundreds
> that we can't keep ourselves from compulsively pressing the new
> email lever over and over and over, hoping it will happen again
> soon, like the caged rats in Skinners' experiments.
WHAT? Who in their right mind is ecstatic about getting new email? When you really check for email like a caged rat, email is _NOT_ your main problem!
If you can't resist checking for email because it might contain something interesting, how exactly do you manage to ignore twitter, facebook, some forums, blogs, wikis, or whatever for extended periods of time? If you can do this, you should be able to do the same with email.
The channel is not your problem. The quantity and quality information you receive over that channel is. If you send/receive the same quantity and quality of information via one or several other channels, you gained nothing. You just have to check several places instead of one to see if there is something new...
Thanks for this good remind.
Google Wave will be the same ...
So I should not use my second screen only to check (on "real time") my gmail and other email boxes. ;-)
I like the pick of the slot machine that is funny. I have some other funny pictures on my website of slot machines and the pics that are used in the reel...my site is http://www.slotmachinesecretsrevealed.com You can check them out if you want, but I had had to post on here to you guys that I liked it and I got a kick out of it:)