If you are reading this I know you are an email addict.
You live for the ping. You crave the pop-up notification. Your hands sweat just a little as you open a waiting communique.
How often do you check for new email?

Every day? Twice a day? Every hour? Every five minutes?

I have friends at Microsoft who — a decade ago before it was fashionable to be “always on” and “forever in touch” — set their email program to check for new mail messages every sixty seconds.
That behavior was disturbing then — and quaint now.

My how time and tide have changed!
Those who own BlackBerry devices have “real time” email where your BlackBerry tickles — and gets tickled back — checking for new messages all day every day every second of the day: The instant new mail arrives you are notified.

How many email accounts do you regularly check a day? I am currently using 15 separate email accounts.

My previous high a few years ago was 25. I manage all my accounts online via Google Apps for Your Domain Premier Edition: a 10 gig email store is an addict’s syringe!
Do you use an email program to download your mail or do you strictly use a web interface to interact with your email?


How many email aliases do you have for each email account?
When you check for new mail and find nothing — how does that make you
feel? Unimportant? Sad? Disappointed? Anticipatory? Relieved?

When a slew of new mail arrives, do you read each email and reply in
turn, or do you read all your mail first and then selectively reply?
Do you save every email you create and receive?
How do you organize your saved mail? Do you use folders or labels or
some other method? Do you still print out email or is saving the
message electronically enough?

Do you regularly backup your email?
How many pieces of email — not including Spam — do you process every
day?
Do you filter your mail based on keywords? If yes, how many filters
have you created?

Do you subscribe to any daily email updates, discussion groups, or
alert services to help lessen the heartbreak of checking for new mail
and only finding an empty syringe… uh… Inbox?

40 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    I used to be addicted to email, but now I find that I sometimes I’ll ignore my personal email for days at a time because there is usually nothing too exciting and almost nothing personal in that account. I used to have a bunch of different email addresses, but I’ve consolidated them to all forward to my main address.
    Email these days is a lot like postal mail these days. There’s always a lot of letters and items in the mail box, but never anything that means anything. I always loved getting mail when I was a kid. Now, most of the paper mail is postcard solicitations for mortgage refinances, car dealers selling cars, coupons and various other things that keep the post office solvent.
    Work email is a little different, but I try to never give out my email address there either to limit the amount of email I need to review and deal with during the day.
    I’ve found myself doing the same thing with the telephone at home as well. We removed the answering machine from the home phone a year or two ago because people who need to get in touch with my wife or myself know our cellular numbers and will call us there instead.

  2. Hi David,
    As you know I recently moved and found out after the fact that the new AT&T did not service my area, nor would they let me access my former email account. At first I panicked, thinking I would never be able to replace my address book, or web addresses I had stored in archive emails.
    Now I find I don’t miss it at all, the important address have been replaced, and I don’t get all those solicitations Chris refers to in his comment.
    I generally check my emails twice a day, but sometimes more often if I am expecting news from you or other VIPs. 😀
    Donna

  3. Hi Chris —
    Yes, I too, love getting paper mail and email — but the paper “Spam” and the electronic “Spam” makes it all tainted and unfun.
    I was “on the web” early — when you didn’t have to protect your email address from Spammers and unsavory types — and so all those great email addresses were scooped up in the first Spam database wave and they appear to be forever tainted as Spam traps — or as Spam initiating email addresses — and that’s disappointing. The Spam lessened the quality of the ownership and the experience and I feel ripped off. Even the strictest Spam filters don’t really work all that well.
    So now, as you suggest, we consolidate and filter and try to watch for the important email. I know you don’t check your personal email often because I have emailed you about topics and I don’t hear from you for a week and sometimes never! Can you filter/star/jangle email from those you want to hear from so it doesn’t get stuck in an indifferent darkness?
    Landline phones are becoming obsolete. Most people I know have disconnected their traditional line in favor of a cell phone and if they need an emergency backup line they use Skype or another VOIP service.

  4. Hi Donna!
    You make an excellent argument why closed email accounts — those tied to ISPs or other fleeting entities — can be dangerous. Your information is held hostage if you move to take a better deal.
    Twice a day! Wow! I leave my mail on and open probably 18 hours a day! Jinkers! 😀

  5. Hi David,
    I should set up a filter to send me a text message to my cell phone to let me know that I have an important email so I’ll go and check it out.
    I’ve gotten bad about checking email. There’s too much competition for time and checking email often ends up being the last thing I end up doing.

  6. Hi David,
    Very true. I’ve found that I’ve been happier reducing the number of obligations that I have to do. With all of the various activities and events available these days, I could be running around every free waking hour.
    When I was young, I often felt bored and that there was nothing to do.
    Now, there are times there is so much to do, I wish I had time to feel bored.

  7. I am always online except the time I work or I am not in the close proximity of a computer, so it’s difficult to say how many times I check my e mail a day – I try to be prompt about reply.
    I do not print e mails, but keep separate folders to save the important ones.
    Both my personal and official communication with the entire world is electronic, so I feel unusually irritated in case the connection breaks down.

  8. Hi David,
    I think I’m getting ready for the summertime.
    Our oldest son is involved with a lot of activities, so we’ve been running around taking him places, as well as making sure he’s doing his homework and helping him when needed. For a while, it seemed like there was always something going on most every evening of the week.
    Besides work, I’ve tried to avoid volunteering to help with any activity at this time because it is easy to get pulled into various activities and end up not having enough time to devote to doing anything well. We’re going to move sometime after the house is sold, so that is a great excuse.

  9. So many questions ….
    How often do you check for new email? Every day? Twice a day? Every hour? Every five minutes?
    If I am working on-line probably every 5/10 minutes on my main account – twice a day on the secondary account. If I am not working on-line then twice a day for both.
    How many email accounts do you regularly check a day?
    Two.
    Do you use an email program to download your mail or do you strictly use a web interface to interact with your email?
    I deliberately moved my main mail account to GMail when I moved to broadband from dial-up away from Outlook.
    How many email aliases do you have for each email account?
    One for each.
    When you check for new mail and find nothing — how does that make you feel? Unimportant? Sad? Disappointed? Anticipatory? Relieved?
    All depends on my expectations at the time – if I am waiting for booking confirmation etc – I am disappointed if it is not there sometimes – at others an empty in box is a relief!
    When a slew of new mail arrives, do you read each email and reply in turn, or do you read all your mail first and then selectively reply?
    Business and friends get read and replied to one by one first – then I look at the rest.
    Do you save every email you create and receive?
    I save everyone I create – but not all those I receive.
    How do you organize your saved mail? Do you use folders or labels or some other method? Do you still print out email or is saving the message electronically enough? Do you regularly backup your email?
    I use the Gmail labels. I print out all my business email so I have hard copies. Not regularly enough!
    How many pieces of email — not including Spam — do you process every day?
    Between 350and 400 – sometimes more if there are flame wars on any of the groups I moderate.
    Do you filter your mail based on keywords? If yes, how many filters have you created?
    One for business.
    Do you subscribe to any daily email updates, discussion groups, or alert services to help lessen the heartbreak of checking for new mail and only finding an empty syringe… uh… Inbox?
    All the yahoo groups I moderate are set to come through my inbox as individual mail – for obvious reasons. No alert services here though – I have enough to deal with already.
    Which reminds me I must go and change all the settings before I go away next week – otherwise my inbox will be flooded.

  10. Hi Katha!
    Wow! You’re on email all day, too! Do you use Gmail as your main point of contact or do you have a student email address you have to watch as well?
    I tend to print out important emails just for the reason you cite — if I’m stuck offline and I need hard information, I want to be able to find it in the real world. 😀

  11. Chris!
    Yes, it makes sense to concentrate on only what matters most.
    Summertime here on the blog can be very good — students are out of school and people are hot and bored at work — so they do more reading. You’d think readership would plummet over the summer but it hasn’t yet so far. Major holidays, however, always lead to a quieter readership no matter what season of the year.

  12. Nicola!
    You never fail to disappoint! I thank you for your detailed and provocative responses!
    Are your main account and second account on the same email provider? Is there a reason you keep them separate?
    I, too, used to be an Outlook minion. It’s so much better to be free and alive on the web in real time doing correspondence.
    Vacation messages are a great addition to our lives! 😀

  13. Hi David,
    Hi David,
    I am “on” on my school email when I work to keep in touch with the department, colleagues etc., other than that I use gmail to communicate.
    I have an active account in hotmail and yahoo too, but I do not use it any more.

  14. Hi KathaKathaKatha!
    I know what you mean about the weather. I’ve been feeling logy all week.
    Here’s what I mean by funneling:
    1. You could set up your other mail accounts to forward all messages to your Gmail account and then you’d create a label for each account so you’d know where the mail came in from…
    2. Or you can use the POP feature of Gmail and pull in your mail that way. Then create a label and you’re done!

  15. Two different providers – the back up is hotmail. The reason I kept it is because it has always been my back up, and I wanted one *constant* while I changed over. It also hopefully means that if one is down I can use the other!

  16. Ok, if that’s what “funneling” is than I was utilizing it without knowing the term, my emails from hotmail and yahoo get forwarded to my gmail.
    I don’t like when it is damp and windy…I want to get under a blanket with a good book and a cup of coffee… 🙁

  17. Hi Katha —
    Do you forward your student account as well?
    It’s been sort of hot and muggy here — Jack The Cat has already given up and now naps the entire day instead of causing his usual winter havoc. 😀

  18. Katha —
    I remember students were bound to hating their university provided email accounts and wouldn’t use them for anything. They always preferred their AOL email for some reason.
    The weather is a powerful force! We need to respect its extremes!

  19. No David I keep them separate – so I always have access to one.
    Since I set up the GMail account it has been down more than hotmail.
    Hotmail is very basic compared to GMail otherwise I might be tempted to get my Gmail forwarded to Hotmail.
    I did look at their fancy new version for a while, but reverted back to the old version – the new one is very graphics heavy, slow loading and clumsy overall.

  20. Ha, Chris!
    I have a UNL alumni email address just because I wanted to grab it — it is in the same sort of alumni.unl.edu format, too.
    My Columbia email address is unfettered by any “alumni” identification. It’s a pure email address, but only a forwarder, and not an account with storage attached.

  21. At the moment you still have a choice – the situation will be reviewed if it becomes mandatory and it still gives me problems. I think it is geared to work with Vista in mind rather than XP runing on an old box.