Are You Addicted to E-Mail?

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U.S. residents are so hooked on e-mail that some check for messages in the bathroom, in church, and while driving, a new survey sponsored by America Online has found.

The average e-mail user in the U.S. has two or three e-mail accounts and spends about an hour every day reading, sending, and replying to messages, according to the survey, conducted by Opinion Research.

E-mail dependency is so strong for 41 percent of survey respondents that they check their e-mail inbox right after getting out of bed in the morning. The average user checks his inbox five times per day, according to the survey, which polled 4012 respondents at least 18 years old in the 20 largest U.S. cities.

About a fourth of respondents acknowledged being so e-mailholic that they can't go more than two or three days without checking for messages. That includes vacations, during which 60 percent of respondents admitted logging into their inbox.

Unsurprisingly, all that e-mail activity sometimes leads to regrets. Almost half of respondents--45 percent--indicated they would like to have the ability to retrieve a message they have sent but that hasn't been read yet.

There is as well, it seems, some attachment anxiety to sent messages. A significant portion of respondents--43 percent--would like to be able to track where their messages get forwarded.

Finally, areas in which it's more likely to find e-mail junkies are, in descending order: Miami/Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, and Houston.

Tips for Cutting Back

Some tips for those interested in curbing their e-mail compulsion:

  • Resolve not to check e-mail after a certain hour of the night and respect the curfew.
  • Often the best way to close the loop on an ongoing e-mail discussion is to pick up the phone and call the other person.
  • The next time you find yourself complaining about the volume of e-mail you receive, look at yourself in the mirror and reflect on how many messages you send out.
  • Act on every e-mail you open by deleting it, forwarding it, responding to it or filing it.
  • Go without e-mail one day per week.
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