Gotta Check My E-Mail – How Little Has Changed

October 11, 2006 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Attention Management | Leave a comment

I read a lot of blog posts about the nature of our go-go society and how we have become too likely to chase interruptions, read emails at any time of day and night, etc. Well, I was reading a report by my collegue Karen Hobert on trends in e-mail messaging when I had an “aha” moment. My office is on the first floor and contains the front door with the mail slot. As I was reading the document on how e-mail compels people to read it and the need to optimize how we spend our e-mail time there was the familiar clanging sound and the day’s mail was sticking in the slot. I felt compelled to get up and grab the mail, then sort through it to see if there was anything interesting. If I’m on a call when the mail comes, I have trouble restraining myself from going to get it, even though most of it is junk.

I guess nothing has changed in our tendencies since the 1700s when the US Postal Service started since even snail mail seems to have the same effect on me as e-mail. We simply have many, many more opportunities to indulge this tendency. Although I’m guessing there weren’t quite as many Land’s End and Dell catalogs to sort through back then.

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