What are you waiting for?

June 15, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

Honestly, what is it?

You check your email 80 times a day.

What Fing email are you waiting for? I check so often but what for…

Are you waiting on an email from God:) I am not saying checking email is a bad thing. Frankly, I love checking my email and knowing that someone else thought of me. Heck, even with spam, at least someone wants me. I do wonder why I check it so often.

Why do we check our emails so often?

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34 responses to “What are you waiting for?

  1. AdamD Reply

    I’m waiting for the email that gives me an excuse to not do whatever I am procrastinating.

    A couple years ago, I switched from letting my mail app check every minute, to every five, then ten, now fifteen. I still often check manually, but I can tell you email feels just as nice and fresh when it’s been sitting on a server for a few minutes.

  2. Robert Franklin Reply

    It’s a Pavlov Dog thing. You hear the ding of the e-mail and it just could be the one that changes your life, or so you think. So far has not happen to me yet 🙂

    I have gotten better by setting my e-mail polling to every three hours instead of evey five minutes. I still cheat but at least I am not dropping what I do every time I hear the ding!

  3. Adrian Crook Reply

    I think it’s like smoking: something to do with your hands. It’s a nervous habit. Like when I’m even remotely unoccupied, I pull out my blackberry and stare blankly at it. Not for anything in particular, but just because it’s something to do with my hands. I don’t smoke, btw. 🙂

  4. Long N. Reply

    I am notified on my phone when I get mail, is that checking? Sounds more like my mail is checking with me.

    Looking at it that way, it’s been years since I last checked my mail.

  5. Will Reply

    Great, so I am not the only one who does this. Thanks Noah, it is comforting to know that you are as obsessive compulsive as I am :-). I think Robert said it well, it is a Pavlov Dog condition.

    I am the same way about snail mail, I get so excited to go and check the mail, I just love the fact that people send me things, makes me feel good!


  6. Charles Reply

    I think this happens in the Bay Area quite a bit because there is a real fear of missing out on an important piece of info sent via email. I find that I check email constantly but only tend to reply at fixed intervals — most emails can wait until later for a response.

  7. Chris Reply

    Mindhacks had a great article on this a while back:


    The theory is that when you do get those occasional emails that make you happy for one reason or another, it gives your brain a reason to search that much harder the next time. All that spam, the extra tasks from your boss, and the annoying pictures of people’s families that you don’t care about actually make the occasional winner more valuable and cause the behavior to be more rewarding.
    Me, I check all day because my boss says I have to!

  8. hollyster Reply

    It’s like you said, to feel important or wanted ;). I have to admit I think that’s what is compelling about the way Bloglines and Google Reader is set up (as opposed to MyYahoo). They user the mail metaphor and apply it to Blog Reading, forcing people to feel that they are wanted or so important cause they have so many blogs to read!

    Who thought reading was so stressful!

  9. Christie Reply

    I spend my day matching candidates and clients….so I am always waiting for “the one” of either. I actually press “send receive” often. Thanks for making me realize this…. LOL.



  10. KR Reply

    hey noah,
    when the email from god does finally reach me, we’ll see who has the last laugh then. good topic and good point.

  11. Linky Love Reply

    I love to check my emails to see if I got yet another money making post approved 🙂

    And of course not waiting for an email of god, but from anybody else having the same amount of love to offer 🙂

  12. dave mcclure Reply

    small, frequent, repeated stimulus-response… excellent for addiction.

    check for email, open email, get reinforcement. rinse, repeat.

    mindless, but very addictive.

  13. Sri Reply

    Even though gmail uses AJAX……but I still keep clicking on inbox to see if new mail has arrived. The effects of Ajax is still slower than clicking manually.

    I am an internet/email hog. I am waiting for that piece of mail that makes my day.

  14. Izzy Neis Reply

    Some of us are just popular, Noah. We like to see how much our fans adore us by constantly checking email.

    And some of us just think we’re popular and wait anxiously for others to help us prove it… 😛

  15. harmonysweetpea Reply

    I love the reference to Pavlov’s dogs. Such a good way of describing it.

    I guess for me, if I have lots of time to kill that results in compulsive email checking, I guess I am so bored that I am looking for some sort of email that will change the overall feel of my day. Some exciting news perhaps or another bored friend who wants to start a session of email ping pong.

  16. IMgeek! Reply

    Since I ventured into Internet Marketing I’m checking my mail for PayPal notifications every 5 minutes.
    It’s frustrating because there’s nothing there *sulks in the deepest, darkest, most soul-blackening corner of the universe*

    Then again getting those 3 word emails from the girlfriend at unexpected times can be quite refreshing.

  17. Bobo Reply

    Well… for the email that tells me I’ve inherited or won 10 mil and I needn’t work anymore?

    But I dun check 80 times… just maybe 3. 😛

  18. karen Reply

    Someone stated this already…but checking email keeps the feeling of “what am I missing out on” in check. I can’t tell you how excited I am to get MSNBC Breaking News emails stating that Brittney and Kevin have split and Paris is in jail (these really did come through–was this Breaking News???).

    Do we always need to be ‘connected’? I have a wireless enabled PDA, so I can search for wi-fi and check email whenever I want. However, I’ve been checking into upgrading to a Treo/Blackberry. Someone tell me why I shouldn’t, please. The obsession continues…

    I recently turned off my work email notifier so I don’t have the pop-up window show, which distracts me from what I’m doing. However, I still have the gmail notifier enabled…that I can’t turn off. I’ll make exceptions for interuptions for my personal email. 🙂 I may need to start looking for a support group-sad!