“You teach best what you most need to learn.” – Richard Bach

editorial portrait of Nir Eyal | Engage MagazineI don’t usually write about personal and revealing matters, but recently I’ve noticed something I don’t like about myself–I check email too often.

This confession doesn’t come easily, because, ironically, I am the author of a book titled Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming ProductsIt is a guidebook for designing technology people can’t put down. There’s just one problem–I can’t put my technology down.

I ritually check email when I wake up in the morning. If I’m out to lunch, I’ll sneak a peek on my way to the restroom. I even look at my email when stopped at a red light. Most troubling, I catch myself emailing instead of being fully present with the people I love most. My daughter recently caught me scrolling on my iPhone and asked, “Daddy, why are you on your phone so much?” I didn’t have a good answer.

I wish I could say I’m in full control of my habits, but I’m not. Although I know exactly why digital gadgets hook us (I wrote a book on it, after all), that hasn’t stopped me from overusing. It’s not that email is bad per se; it’s a tool like any other. Rather, I’ve recently noticed that how and when I use this tool is hurting me instead of helping, and I’ve decided something needs to change.

Of course, you pick your compulsion. What one person finds engrossing is utterly boring to someone else. Video games, spectator sports, social media, television, and email compel some and repel others. So it is.

Not everyone struggles with email like I do, but my hope is that I can share some generalizable lessons. Here are a few ways I’m tackling my problem, using what I know about the psychology of habits.

Getting unhooked

In my book, Hooked, I describe how products form habits–behaviors done with little or no conscious thought. The impulse to use these products attaches to what I call an internal trigger. Internal triggers are cues informed by mental associations and memories. Certain places, situations, routines, and most frequently, uncomfortable emotions all act as internal triggers. When we’re lonely, we check Facebook. When we’re uncertain, we Google. And when we’re bored, we check YouTube, sports scores, Pinterest, or any number of other digital distractions.

In my case, my unconscious email checking coincides with a particularly uncomfortable sensation. The urge to check is hardest to resist whenever I feel I should be elsewhere.

This cognitive itch comes in barely perceptible waves of anxiety prompted by unanswered questions. Is there something important waiting for me in my inbox? Perhaps good news? Perhaps bad? Maybe a quick response would scratch the itch to check? Even as I write this I feel the urge to check email.

The holidays didn’t help. The extended time away from work meant emails piled up unanswered. Furthermore, the potent mix of uncomfortable small talk with rarely seen relatives created a cocktail of dull disquietude. I felt the urge to check as kin grasped for something to say between the forced smiles, sips of wine, and shuffling feet.

While older members of the clan plugged the awkward pauses in conversation by bringing cocktail glasses to lips, the 20-somethings planted screens to faces. I realized we were all conceivably using our booze and our phones for the same reason–a brief escape from a restless reality.

Recognizing the internal trigger prompting the habit helped me confront the urge. Although I haven’t quite figured out what to do with the social anxiety and need to escape quite yet, I’m attempting to become more aware of it. Simply acknowledging the sensation can be a way of disarming the power of the trigger.spruce-image (1)

Burying the triggers

I have been looking for practical ways to put my mind at ease. For one, I have designated time on my calendar for email.  I now schedule a daily meeting with my inbox, as opposed to letting messages barge into my life throughout the day. When I feel the need to check, I remind myself I’ll get to it soon and that there’s an apportioned time for it.

While internal triggers cue behaviors through mental associations, there is another type of trigger I have to deal with if I want to break the habit. External triggers prompt action by telling the user what to do next. The notifications, icons, and buttons we see throughout our day tell us to check, open, and respond. Sometimes these notifications are helpful, other times they are not. These digital tidbits can needlessly distract us.

I knew what I had to do–remove the external triggers prompting me to check email. However, actually doing what I knew had to be done was harder than I expected.

I’d stopped charging my phone by my bed for some time, so that was no longer a problem. But to go a step further, I turned off email notifications on my phone. Not seeing the red jewel hovering over the Gmail app icon on my phone would reduce the temptation, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, that idea backfired. The app icon was still on the home screen, implicitly telling me what to do every time I used my phone. “Open me! I have something special for you!” it seemed to scream.

Although I can’t kill the email app on my iPhone completely (Apple doesn’t allow it), I did the next best thing. I buried it.

Dr. BJ Fogg of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab posits that making a behavior harder to do makes it less likely to occur. I looked for ways to make opening email more difficult. Surprisingly, I found just adding a few extra steps makes me less likely to check my email.

By moving the email icon to the second page of a nested group, opening the app requires a bit more effort. Opposed to the one tap needed to open it before, now I need to open the group, swipe to the right, and tap on the app. Remarkably, adding just two more steps actually makes a difference. Not only is Gmail no longer staring me in the face every time I check my phone, but the extra steps give me a bit more time to think about whether opening email is really necessary at that moment.

Ebbing the flow

Finally, I looked for ways to reduce the number of incoming messages. The fewer messages that come in, the less tempted I am to respond.

First, I turned on my email’s vacation responder so that everyone who emails me receives an automatic reply, even when I’m not on vacation. My immediate return message includes a list of answers to questions I frequently receive. For example, I discovered that a sizable chunk of emails are from readers and entrepreneurs who’d like to know how to schedule time to talk with me. Instead of attempting to slog through the dozens of email volleys, I provide a link to an online calendar anyone can use to schedule time with me.

The robo responder helps reduce email volume by directing people with appropriate information, as well as reducing the inevitable email flurry that follows a subject line such as, “Time to chat?”

A work in progress

This is uncharted territory for me. I usually stick to teaching businesses how to make their products stickier, and since most companies struggle with customer engagement, my work has been eagerly received. However, in this case, I want to be free of the urge to overuse technology.

When it comes to wrestling back control over digital devices, I admit I don’t have all the answers (yet). What I do know is that I’d like to change this aspect of my life. Figuring out when, where, and how to use technology is still an open question, both personally and societally. What we all want is to control our habits, rather than allow them to control us.

How about you? Have you struggled with bad habits, tech related or otherwise? How have you regained control? Give me some tips in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: Jay Watson (he's awesome!)

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  • http://scientificgoals.com/ Duff McDuffee

    “When it comes to wrestling back control over digital devices, I admit I don’t have all the answers (yet). What I do know is that I’d like to change this aspect of my life. ”

    This is an area I’m planning on writing a book about actually. The gist of it is this: we only have one reward center in the brain, and when we become hooked on any addictive or compulsive behavior, what happens is we get a flood of dopamine in the reward center. This excess of dopamine, when chronic, leads to downregulation of dopamine receptors. Downregulation means basically the neurons prune receptors to turn down the volume (so to speak).

    That leads to needing more of the stimulus to get the same result psychologically. It also leads to what’s called “cross-sensitization,” making us generally vulnerable to other addictive substances and behaviors from Facebook to online gambling, pornography to Starbucks. That’s why people quitting alcohol take up eating sweets and drinking coffee and going on Facebook. When we substitute one super-stimulus for another, we don’t ever actually upregulate the dopamine receptors. The basic neurological structure remains dysfunctional.

    The key then is to either quit or strictly moderate all the super-stimulating behaviors and addictive technologies long enough until our brains can reset. But this is of course ridiculously hard unless a person has a few thousand bucks to enter rehab or go hang out in cabin in the woods. And then coming back into daily life ends up bringing back all those triggers for the old behaviors. So we have to find ways to set up the triggers to either no longer function (extinction), or to trigger positive replacement behaviors, behaviors that cannot be performed at the same time as the undesired behavior.

    Kelly McGonigal’s excellent book The Willpower Instinct presents a lot of the best research out there on established methods of increasing willpower for “I will” challenges as well as “I won’t” challenges. When I was breaking my Facebook habit, I found it best to set tiny goals at first, for example to eliminate Facebook for 1 hour, then build on success, building to 2 hours, then 5 hours, a whole day, etc. Most people go all or nothing and then fail, and then indulge more because they failed a little bit. By building upon success, as well as changing environment which is what you did with your email program, we can make progress and eventually lead to helpful brain changes. Ironically, most apps and other sticky software that hooks us is part of the problem of course. I personally turn off all notifications for everything except calls and email.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Thanks for these insights Duff and let me know if I can help with the book.

  • Lance Poole

    I’ve also buried my email app and that has helped. I wish there was an app that would hide apps like this. After several weeks, the extra swipes don’t impact my ability to check nearly as much as I would like. It would be cool if every day, the app was moved to a different location on my phone!

    A feature that google or other mail providers should create – only download messages at preset times. i.e. if you only check emails at 10am, the app should only pull messages at 9:59am.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      I would love the OS layer to have these types of features built in! Are you listening Apple and Google?

      • Hardly Anonymous Now

        Nir, I love everything that I’ve read of yours. However, I think this may be a problem much more easily solved than with all these workarounds being suggested.

        You could just switch your Push email over to manual so you never get bothered by new email unless you actually fetch it yourself …

        • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

          I tried this but it didn’t work for me. I found the “pull to refresh” was just as intoxicating.

    • Matt Sendr

      hiding the icon only works if you don’t know how to search on your phone. pull down icons, type in “Ma” (or probably just “M”) and you are into your mail app without hunting for an icon. that’s sort of like setting your clock ahead so you’re not late. unless you’re braindead, that only works for a day or two until your brain figures it out, automatically does the math for you, you know what time it actually is anyway, and the whole thing is pointless.

      • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

        Obviously, I know where to find the icon but I’ve founded adding a few more steps makes a difference even if I know where it is.

        • Matt Sendr

          That’s my point- since you obviously know where it is and the efficient way to find it that I previously mentioned, you will quickly adapt to your work around and end up doing it just as much as you were initially. Like the clock example, our brains are too smart, you can’t trick it for very long, it will quickly adapt and work around that obstacle. It will only take a few times that you need to get into your email quickly- you’ll be in a hurry and instinctively go to the most efficient way to accomplish your task, you’ll pull down the icons, type M, instantly be in your mail app, and set that new pattern into your brain.

          • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

            It’s a work in progress, that very well may be. Any suggestions?

          • Matt Sendr

            Maybe don’t store your password, enter it manually every time. That extra hurdle of typing in your password every time might be just enough of a hassle to prevent the impulse email checking.

          • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

            That’s a new idea! Thanks.

        • Matt Sendr

          That’s my point- you obviously know where it is, and you know what the shortcut is to get there. Our brains are too smart, you will instantly adapt to receive the reward. It will only take a few times that you’ll need to get into your email in a hurry- you will instinctively choose the fastest/easiest path, pull down the icons, hit m, and be into your mail app within seconds. It will only take a few repetitions of this to establish a new pattern/habit, and your obstacle will no longer work.

  • serenaehrlich

    This is a great read, Nir. I find that email is not my primary problem but several other apps are. I moved them to the third screen and cut my open rates down drastically. Is there an app yet that actually does shock you when you’re bored? If so, let me know.

  • Elena Kron

    Hi Nir, I think there is something else to it. The triggers aren’t the only source of your addiction – they barely are a source at all. The real source is the uneasy feeling. In fact, those things you are addicted to -they are just a way to calm any uneasy feeling. Angry at a partner ? – read some mails, you’ll soon forget about it. Sad about bad news ? – let’s check some other news, and feel better. Unexplicable anxiety ? – same solution. The only problem is, the more you push away your stubborn emotions, the harder they try to hit you next time, so you’ll need more and more mail reading to obtain the same calm than before. Hence the addiction – any kind of addiction.

  • Darkorbit

    Thanks Nir, spectacular article! I get hundreds if not thousands emails daily, most of them is just spam, but it requires upto one hour to go through them, time consuming. But I’m afraid I’ll miss something important and if not checked regularly emails pile up fast.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      I know the feeling 🙂

      • Damien Stevens

        Try Sanebox.com. It’s a huge time-saver and reducer of ADD for me. It learns to place my important and urgent emails in my inbox and filters other emails to a folder I check daily. So an email that an order has shipped or a newsletter gets out of my inbox whereas an important email from a client goes in my inbox. It helps me check email less when they’re are fewer emails in my inbox. I’m not affiliated, just a loyal user. Works on any device too FYI.

        • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

          Yes, I love sanebox. Simple but effective.

  • fwade

    When you take this single behavior and multiply it by hundreds or thousands, you can get a sense of how far-reaching the problem can be in corporations who aren’t even seeing it as a problem. I have been in meetings in executives where have the persons attending have their heads in a device at any moment. When challenged, they bristle, and give reasons why their email might be important and can’t wait.

    in my book, Perfect Time-Based Productivity, I actually try to quantify these costs and show that a single executive who insists that employees return his email within the hour inflates the cost tremendously, even as no-one really notices. What he’s doing is increasing the anxiety of not knowing what’s in your email Inbox at all times.

    Some executives add to the problem by publicly recognizing and rewarding those who return their email promptly… encouraging the anxiety and its subsequent habits.

    I have found that meditation helps, and so does The Work of Byron Katie, which helps you learn how to question stressful thoughts in the moment, hopefully before whipping out that smartphone in a place that’s dangerous, rude or unhygienic…

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Great point fwade. Faces on phones in the boardroom is such a waste and as you point out promotes a terrible culture.

  • andrey verbitsky

    Hi Nir,
    There is a bunch of powerful visualization techniques – when you visualise and consciously replace the picture of one behavior to the other one. It does require some goodwill and strength, but it worked well for me.
    Also the “anchoring” technique is worth consideration.

    P.s. Checking email is an addiction – and as with any addiction it is easy to replace it for the other one (more healthy) that to eliminate completely

  • David Jorgensen

    I smiled at the irony as well Nir!

    I agree that It seems we have a tendency to become slaves to our senses and quickly develop nearly uncontrollable urges provoked by our internal triggers. To the vast majority of the population this goes unnoticed until they realize it’s negatively effecting or limiting their performance. A good example of this would be checking Facebook or instagram at work to procrastinate beginning a challenging task. The problem is, by the time you realize it, the feedback loop that’s been created is so strong it’s difficult change. This is arguably similar to that of a habitual drug user or someone with OCD.

    Much like someone who has OCD or habitually uses drugs I propose that once we recognize the problem (checking email/Facebook/our device to often) and want to stop, our reward centers have another strong channel to get in the way. Not only are we rewarded when we use the source of stimulation but, we are also rewarded after giving into the battle of telling ourselves we aren’t going to “do the action”. The act of giving in after restraining the action feels great!

    Perhaps “burying the trigger” isn’t the most effective remedy. There will always be ways to activate the internal triggers so trying to avoid all of them would be challenging and overtime will eventually depreciate in its effectiveness. Is an extra two clicks, a tap and a swipe or having to find your dealers phone number again after deleting it from your phone book really going to stop you? Instead could you redirect the action the trigger wants to initiate to something more positive. For example, every time you get the urge to check your email you could instead open your note pad and write a paragraph of a blog post. This isn’t easy, but over time the trigger will be disassociated with the negative action and re-attributed to something more productive.

    That being said, the way I have found most effective is to calm the senses all together through meditation, yoga and exercise. By practicing directing the focus of my mind and having extra clarity (hard to describe this) to recognize triggers and action, it seems i’m beginning to gain greater control over the impulses of the senses. But hell, i’m far from perfect, and because of books like Hooked i’m going to need to throw some of the other methods in there too. 😉

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Thanks for the ideas David. I’ll try some of these.

  • http://alfredlua.com/ Alfred Lua

    Hi Nir, recently, I sign out of my Facebook account every time I’m done using it. If I want to check it again, I have to log back in which takes a few seconds but somehow, it is a huge barrier and it stops me from checking my Facebook feed very frequently. Perhaps this can help to reduce your urge to check your emails – not sure if you can sign out of your email app on iPhone though.

  • Beth Raps

    You describe a spiral. We can slow the spiral at many points. It’s interesting to me where most commenters want to slow it. I don’t have the addiction you describe. My consulting practice lies in the polar- complementary location to yours and most commenters’. I’m not addicted to tech; RAISING CLARITY helps others reclaim their minds and get their work done. But when I noticed I was overly fond of drinking–very very slightly overfond–I began to wonder how to address it. And the place I found to slow the spiral–almost to a halt, but not entirely, I’m lucky not to be predisposed to alcoholism–was asking myself why I was drinking. This is basic mindfulness, and I feel it is the gist of the deep question you’re asking in your article, which I read on Medium. (It was heck to find the place to log comments directly to this post, btw, I had to fight being “hooked” into your blog first and search on a term in the title!) The farther upstream we slow or interrupt the spiral, the easier it is, in my experience. Tech is fine but not the tech reflex. The self-attending reflex (mindfulness practice) is also a spiral. It addresses and interrupts other spirals but its benefits go deeper than helping us become conscious of perhaps-unwanted habits. It actually helps us build good habits, and ultimately free ourselves from habit-mind entirely. So they say! And my experience corroborates. An offering from a fellow sincere seeker.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Much appreciated. I’m looking more into mindful practices.

  • Rachel

    Hi Nir,

    I really enjoyed your piece and have a lot of respect for your philosophy and actions on this topic. Thank you for taking the time to write and share the piece. When I get home today, I’m going to move my phone charger and re-set my alarm clock so that I can stop using my smartphone as an alarm.

    A “bad habit” that I’ve worked on and significantly impacted is the habit of getting caught up in negative storytelling. For instance, talking with a friend about work and spiraling into complaining.

    What has helped:

    1) Having a confederate–someone in my life who is there to remind me when I’m lapsing into the undesirable habitual behavior. While this could be “annoying,” I’ve found it enormously helpful. The prompt I tended to get on this habit was questions like, “Is this really the energy you want to bring up now?” and “Is talking about this going to be helpful?” I think the analog here would be a trusted person in your life who can gently say, “seems like you’re itching for email, anything I can do?” or something similar.

    2) Truly believing my life will be better if I kick the habit. You seem to have that one nailed.

    3) Breathing combined with self-talk. I wonder if you have already tried this – for instance, when you feel the urge to check email, stop and focus on the rise and fall of your chest for a few breaths…and then ask yourself things like, “What’s going on for me right now? Can I meet my need some other way?” or “I’ll be OK even if I don’t check email right now” or “The email will still be there when I get to it later.” I think you are already doing these things, but if not, I’d try it. The breathing probably makes a difference. My version of the self-talk would be something like, “Is this really where I want to take this conversation?” or “Is this bringing more benefit or more harm to discuss?”

    That said…I am guilty of checking Instagram, Facebook and email in a compulsive way, and I am going to try taking my own advice. Replacing those actions with something else also seems like it would be helpful…I think my underlying motivation (vs. rather than wanting to be somewhere else, as you mentioned in your piece) is the desire to feel connected to other people. It seems like it should be easy enough to instead either stop and think about a positive recent or upcoming social interaction, or turn around and talk to a friend/colleague who is near by, or just do the breathing and self-talk thing. I’ll also move the app icons off the first screen on my phone, as you suggest. Thanks again!

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Thank you for sharing this!

  • Miguel A Cortés

    Hello Nir

    Amazing post, personal topics can be powerful. I learned a lot reading the steps you have taken to control your email compulsion, you have already regained some control over your inbox. I believe technology should serve us, not the other way around.

    Thinking of ways to give you some advice, I was looking at your contact page and saw a problem there. It has a nice, big form where your readers can send you email and that’s the problem. You make it too easy for people to do so.

    A solution would be to make it more unconfortable for people to send you stuff, without offending them. For example including an explanation on top of the form where you tell them to be concise and consider you receive lot’s of emails. Additionally you could answer there the most frequent questions so it’s not necessary to fill your inbox.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Thank you for the idea. I’ll try to find the right balance.

  • http://www.mailburn.com/ Daniel Pavlyuchkov

    Great post!

    I have been working in email field for a long time and have a few dozen articles of people complaining that email sucks their time away. I gained a lot of insight from them and I can share a few things.

    Unfortunately, we can rarely limit the amount of emails we receive, so we need to find another ways to manage incoming emails.

    * One good advice is indeed to work with email in batches every hour or so. That helps you structure your day and accomplish at least a few tasks every day.

    * Next can be – spend only 15 mins at a time managing email when you have time and attention, and process them from the top. You will miss a lot of emails and it’s uncomfortable but the most important things will surface anyway.

    * 4 hour work week book by Tim Ferris describes a good way how to limit your email time down to 1 hour a week with automation and specific rules. If people really want to email you they will be forced to accommodate to your rules.

    * Use different tools or email clients. This is where I myself decided to focus with our startup Mailburn. We want to provide more suitable interface for different types of email and focus on the most important type of emails – conversations with real people.

    We noticed that you need to do a lot of clicks to open threads/attachments, signatures and quotes take half of the screen space and many other things are not optimized for mobile use. That’s why we declutter email interface and make it super clean so you can be much faster processing your emails on the go. And it looks sexier that way :).

    I would love to hear back from you if you think we are moving in the right direction. Maybe you can tell me what bothers you most so we include that into Mailburn. And I can hook you up into a private beta right away if you want :).

    Daniel.

    • http://www.nirandfar.com/ Nir Eyal

      Great tips and I’d be happy to try the beta. Please email me nir at nireyal dot com

  • Magnus Lindstaf

    Using the “VIP” function in the iOS mail app can help as well. Adding the important persons in my business (clients, bosses, team members) to the list will stop my urge to check my e-mail in order to see if something urgent has come up.

    The VIP list has separate notifications from the regular mail, so you can choose what kind of notifications you want for it.

    It’s not a way to get out of the habit of checking mail altogether, but I’ve found it to be a good balance between mail that you’d want to reply to urgently vs. mail that can wait until the daily mailbox check at 4 pm. It calms the mind to know that you won’t miss out on mail from your prioritised stakeholders.

  • Karen DeCuir-DiNicola

    Thank you for this article… it helped me realize that as an entrepreneur, I check the emails incessantly to see if people have responded to me and let that direct my mindset for the day (negative or positive) by evaluating myself and performance on whether or not folks have responded to me… similar to the way I let the scale define me previously… after I finish writing this I am going to put my email app on the second page of my i phone
    Thank you AGAIN!

  • Avnish

    Great post Nir.I agree with Elena that we have bunch of addictions and we start doing one of those, whenever we are bored or anxious or just want to kill time. There are two factors which decide which medium I check most frequently. One is is ease of checking which you have already covered. The second factor is probability of having a new notification or message or mention when you check the medium. As a result, my first choice is whatsapp, followed by email, Quora, Twitter, LinkedIn and FB. My notifications are turned off and I don’t get a beep or the red jewel. But mentally I know, I would have got something new, so let me check.

    And I have a good reason why FB is last. I was earlier using the FB app which was one click. But it inconvenient to do a few things on the app, so I started checking FB on the browser. Even if I don’t log out, FB logs me out and makes me login every time. I think they do this so that I download the app. Unfortunately for them, this has significantly reduced the no of time I check FB in a day.

  • Avnish

    In fact, I just realized that there is a huge downside to not having notifications switched on. When they are on, you only check the app when you see the red jewel showing you that there is something new for you. If you don’t see it, you don’t check it.

    When you don’t have the notification switched on , the thrill of guessing and then checking whether there is something new or not, becomes an activity in itself. I would think not having the notifications sometimes makes you check the app more often.

  • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jasonhurlbut Jason Hurlbut

    Hi Nir, I recommend using Acompli which was just purchased by Microsoft! It won’t completely cure you but it will give you great relief as you need to change your screen badge to Unread emails in your Focused inbox. It has become magic for me (and I suffer from the same addiction!)
    Good Luck!

  • http://www.logicaltoys.com Mark Heyman

    Habitualisation…..12 noon, time for lunch whether we are hungry or not, 6 time for pre-dinner drinks……ask someone if they are hungry, they look at their watch as if the watch can tell them! I really enjoyed your website, spot on…..the only way to break free is to become more spontaneous, very hard for me…..my enginnering background requires me to make lists, stick to schedules, plan to achieve acceptable levels of efficiency!!!! Yikes…….Love your thoughts and feedback from other readers!!!

    cheers mark

  • Chris Boggiano

    Thank you Nir. I’d love to have a sensor that knows when I’m within 10 feet of one of my daughters that sends my phone into airplane mode and won’t come out without a full reboot.

    Since that’s not happening anytime soon, a math problem or some other type of mental friction between me and my inbox would be nice. I can imagine opting to let the problems get harder and harder each time I check email from my phone in a day. Unfortunately, I’d be in Fields Medal territory by dinnertime.

    • Garrett

      *ponders* That’s a multi-billion-dollar idea, potentially…. executives with families would be throwing money at you, when you’d make that happen.

      Your daughters, AND your (potential) Significant Other 🙂 They all deserve your complete focus and attention.

  • Vincent Intakeo

    Thanks for sharing this post. I realize I do check my emails frequently which sometimes can be a bad habit during class or when I’m driving. I’ll surely try to cut down my usage and become more attentive to other more important things.

  • Torrey Russell

    Nir,
    I am moving my more important conversations to text and Twitter.. and now only check email a few times a day. Texting like Tweeting only allows a very limited canvas to tell your story. It’s immediate and has no spam filter… Separating out your A list, getting them to use text cuts your hunting and anxiety in half.
    Try it.

  • Dan Kogan

    I’t all about keeping the balance between doing and being. We are in an age of getting lost in doing and making being transparent thus become unconscious subjects to all kinds of calls to action (sort of slaves to our own creations). acknowledging, embracing, and valuing being possible in various way is possible and essential. The Morning time is very important and can be a key – I take time in the mornings without technology, I try to do yoga and meditate, spent time with my son, make breakfast, do the dishes and be mindful doing it. I it has it’s ups and downs but lately I get these fabulous sensations and gain energy and focus for the rest of the day.

    At work I try to take brakes looking away for few seconds from my computer and remembering something else (it’s easier to remember since I get it in the morning) it’s comes easier if done daly, it’s easier if when I eat well, It’s easier is I spend time in nature.

    I Have a 3 year old son and I find that we are building our children’s consumption habits and inner triggers (or inner flow). it wouldn’t much good just fighting habits that we find bad rather create an environment where we and them enjoy and acknowledge the fun and value of just being.
    you can’t let others enjoy being if you can’t enjoy it yourself.

    Nir- I love you work- well done!

    Follow me on Facebook
    Check this out…
    Eckhart tolle – talks at google has some very good advice (around min 40)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE1dWwoJPU0

  • ARMSabaduquia

    This post is very hooking. We usually get used with things which we encounter almost every day of our lives and it will become more of habits. For some reasons, it seems hard to cut those routines and tend to go back on that way over and over again. This should marketing do, converting their products to be a part of human’s every day cycle. Likewise this posthttp://smallbiztrends.com/2015/09/the-psychology-of-free-stuff.html will teach us the Psychology of persuasion and how to make your business a part of human habit.