Are we overdosing on Email?

Mike Halsey MVP
Jul 14, 2011
Updated • Dec 1, 2012

There really can be no escaping from it these days and we've accepted the barrage of emails we receive from people as a normal part of life.  Should it be this way though and will something have to give soon in order to avoid people either becoming completely addicted to their email, or to help them avoid going crazy because of it?

Scientists and researchers have been saying for several years now that we're getting too much email.  They began saying this when the Blackberry was gaining popularity and more and more people suddenly began using email on the move.  The complaint then was that we were all expected to be able to answer work email outside of work hours.  This wasn't giving people adequate time to switch off from their daily lives and relax in their own private time.

The Blackberry soon became known as the 'Crackberry' as people became addicted to the email facility on the handsets.  Now though the situation has spread like an epidemic, not only to smartphones, but also to other connected devices such as tablets and netbooks.  Questions will need to be asked again though if we're not spending too much time addicted to email (and other forms of messaging) and if it isn't having a negative effect on our lives, and on society, that could begin to cause real social problems if left unchecked.

It's not an unusual experience though by any stretch of the imagination.  Wherever you go in modern daily life you'll see exactly the same thing.  Everywhere there will be people checking their smartphones, as if the world has moved on considerably in the five minutes since they last checked it.

I will admit to being an email twitcher on my phone.  I'll go and visit a friend but the phone will be out and all too all too often I'll flick it on and do a quick email check.  This is despite the facts that the phone is set to automatically check for email every fifteen minutes and I don't get that many exciting or interesting work or social emails every day anyway.  It's a problem, and I know it.  I find myself feeling embarrassed that I clearly have a stronger connection to my email than I do to the person I'm visiting.

But what are the emails we're all receiving and are they really that important anyway?  If I examine my own emails, I'll wake up every day to a few Google alerts (for my work here) and emails from Groupon and perhaps some shopping websites telling me about offers.  I've long since switched off from the barrage of social networking emails inviting me to play this, or join that on Facebook and telling me that @person mentioned me on Twitter.

I'm lucky then, as a great many people will still be receiving five or six emails a day from Facebook.  Every one of them reminding them that they haven't logged into their Facebook account and interacted with their friends in, oh, must have been at least half an hour.  That's all the shopping emails are like too.  I'm hardly likely to forget that Debenhams exist on the high street and only really want to know when they've got a sale going on that's relevant to me.  Alas this means I have to sign up for a barrage of emails that aren't relevant to me in the slightest.

In recent days I've finally had enough and have been undergoing a cull, hitting unsubscribe on many of these emails.  I know though that it's only a matter of time before more companies tempt me to sign up for email alerts, or that I wake up one morning and don't feel there are enough emails there (an odd feeling that one) so I'll go and sign up for another.

It should come as no surprise to you then that all of these companies hire psychologists to advise them on things exactly like this.  Email is becoming a major social problem, especially since they started playing with our heads to get our attention and to get us hooked.

It would be interesting to hear how many emails you receive every day, let us know in the comments.  Of that total try to answer these if you can.  How many are from companies marketing themselves, how many are from social networks, how many are from work (and outside of work hours) and, crucially, how many of them are actually relevant or important?


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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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