Pigeon of Discontent: “I Check My Email Constantly.”

Each week, I post a video about some Pigeon of Discontent raised by a reader. Because, as much as we try to find the Bluebird of Happiness, we’re also plagued by those small but pesky Pigeons of Discontent.

This week’s Pigeon of Discontent, suggested by a reader, is: “I check my email constantly.”


If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…

Find a way to unplug from technology, or, how to escape the cubicle in your pocket.

11 tips for boosting your sense of quiet focus.

Have you found any great strategies for keeping email your servant, not your master?

You can check out the archives of videos here. It’s crazy–my YouTube channel has passed the mark for one million viewers.



Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Rachel

    I think another reason for checking e-mail constantly is just plain boredom. When a person is not fully engaged in the present, the temptation to check e-mail (or Facebook, etc.) is greater.

  • peninith1

    Checking my computer really serves as the ‘spacer’ in my day. I start by spending time on line first thing in the morning, then go back and check mail in between tasks / activities, and when I return home from being out somewhere. I do this more than I would like, but I really don’t find checking mail a waste of time. I find cruising idly around the web more of a waste. I really try not to get lost doing that, but just quickly check mail and respond, then get back to what I want to be doing. That said, I still think the computer has great time-wasting potential.
    The last time this subject came up on this blog, I spent several days making a hash mark on my desk-side calendar whenever I sat down. Ouch. Definitely too much. “Good servant / bad master” is certainly correct, Gretchen. I reset my screen saver so that I would see a change after 15 minutes and and go dark after a half hour. I try NEVER to go back to my computer before the screen goes dark.

  • Paul – The Kind Little Blog

    The email on my iPhone recently packed up. Thus, I can only check it on my computer at home. This is great as it means that I am not constantly checking it throughout the day as I used to.

  • Tara

    I’ve set up my work mail so that all of those annoying pop-up notifications are switched off (too tempting to check RIGHT NOW) and I’ve also set it up so it only downloads mail every 2 hours. I’m also very strict with my filters so that spam and irrelevant emails get bounced before I even have to engage my brain to deal with them.

  • Mia

    In my case, it’s not checking e-mails what distracts me, but checking (fashion/travel/personal) blogs. I can spend hours just jumping from one blog to another and vice versa!

    What makes it even worse is the urge to constantly compare myself to this stylish/glamorous/interesting bloggers out there with their fabulous lifes and feel all pitiful about myself.

    Even though I get some inspiration every over day, most of the time it just makes me unhappy.

  • I operate a strict curfew in the evening. I switch off my PC, turn off my mobile phone, and the only electronic device I use after that is my Kindle Touch (no connecting, though, as the router is also off).

    I also never take my phone to the gym (it’s 5 mins away) and have a 20-minute meditation session during the day, which seems to break the connection cycle and leave me feeling less frazzled.

    But the best thing was having my HTC phone stolen (no, really) on the Tube in London last year. It was a blessing in disguise. I downgraded to my old Nokia, on which I can check email/the web, but not easily (no touchscreen, small display). It was then that I realised just how twitchy constant connectivity had made me.

    So curfew, workouts, meditation and theft. The secret of happiness in the internet age.

  • Morghan

    Set your mail client and RSS reader to fetch at specific times. Mine bulk download at 5am so everything is waiting for me when I leave the shower. Take an hour to catch up or star for later and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Not the best if you require constant contact, but most people are fine replying once per day, and people learn to send messages in advance.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestion.

  • My problem is that in order to stop checking my email constantly, I have to WANT to STOP checking my email constantly. I don’t know if I’m too deep into my addiction, but at the moment, I don’t want to stop….

    Maria xx

  • emd04

    Just signed up for Quarterly–so fun!