Here's how to know if you're hooked on email

Take the email addiction quiz to find out

When you know you have unread emails, they tend to scream, “Read me! Read me!” — first softly, and then with increasing urgency — until you open them. Why is the siren song of your email so powerful?

It’s all in your head!

Clicking on that fresh email triggers a burst of the brain chemical dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being, among other things. Put simply, opening an email is actually a hit of happiness.

Getting sucked into email, however, is often a distraction from the things successful people need to focus on. Successful entrepreneurs need to have an almost obsessive focus on creating a high-performance culture and being known for one product, service or something that differentiates their company in its market. Other professional people have their most important foci. (You can read more on the value of obsessive focus here.)

How much power does your email have over you? Are you addicted to email? According to the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) an addiction must meet at least three of the following seven criteria. Answer yes or no to the following:

Significant time or energy spent. Have you spent a significant amount of time emailing? Have you ever concealed or minimized your use? Have you ever emailed during times you shouldn’t?

Withdrawal. Have you experienced physical or emotional withdrawal when you have been off email for extended periods, including anxiety, irritability, shakes or sweats?

Limited control. Do you sometimes email more than you would like? Do you sometimes get lost in email or use it as an escape?

Negative consequences. Have you continued to email even though there have been negative consequences to your, health, job, or family?

Neglected or postponed activities. Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work, or household activities because of emailing?

Tolerance. Do you find that you are spending more and more time emailing?

Desire to cut down. Have you thought about cutting down or controlling your use? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your use?

How did you do? Is it time to take stock of your email habits? Becoming a successful entrepreneur, corporate leader, sales rep or professional requires a healthy, obsessive focus on what’s important. Staying mindful that email is truly biologically seductive, turning it off when working on other things and choosing when to engage with it, will make you more productive.

Do you need the email dopamine hit of happiness, or are you okay without it?

Categories: Business Insights, Human Resources