Email Experiment

June 23, 2022

In order to work on my email checking tendencies (and perhaps play around a bit with purposeful discomfort, if not-pressing-the-dopamine-inducing-lever can be seen as discomfort?), I am going to try an experiment.

For today, I will allow myself four email checks for a) my work email and b) my personal email. And c) my blog comments! I definitely will reflexively check those when I get bored as well.

I made a cute little tracker to help me with this:

I suppose I might as well check all 3 at once because I didn’t make a more complicated grid.

(PS: look at that neutral mildliner! Slightly obsessed!)

What is my aim in all this? WHY DO I CARE? Do I have an end goal of floating through my days like some kind of monk, never distracted and fully immersed and present in every single little thing and just savoring and appreciating the (#*$ out of every moment?

Admittedly, kind of.

We will see how it goes!

PPS: I am going to check out library audiobooks or EPIC books for G to see if I can fulfill my Family Reading Hour fantasy before she can actually read. Though on that note she is somewhat closer than the other two were at her age so I could work on that as well (we have this book; might be interesting to try while the big kids are at camp).

Off to run. It’s only 72 right now (87% humidity)!! Gotta seize it while I can.


  • Reply Margot June 23, 2022 at 7:05 am

    I’m an elementary school teacher and I think the way your evenings are set up is perfectly fine! The kids are doing plenty of learning, trying new things at camp. Having calm, relaxing time at home is just what they need at night! However, I’d also like to say that G can participate in a family reading session without being able to read OR using audiobooks! If she has a pile of engaging picture books, she can look through the pictures. Set a very low-bar time goal (5-10 minutes) to start to have everyone engaged and then build up from there. I truly believe she would benefit as much as everyone else from time dedicated to her own books.

  • Reply Kelley June 23, 2022 at 7:48 am

    Your link didn’t work, but is it by any chance “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”? Because that book has worked for me twice now. Currently using it on my third child – she’s 4 like G.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2022 at 9:46 am

      yes it is 🙂 fixed the link!!

    • Reply Coree June 23, 2022 at 10:06 am

      I have this sitting on my desk, should I start it with my nearly 5 year old?

      • Reply Amy June 23, 2022 at 10:42 am

        I would, the sooner the better. I tried it when one of my kids was 5 but she was already advanced beyond the beginner level so it didn’t make sense for us. When my youngest is 4 I’m going to work on it with him.

  • Reply Grateful Kae June 23, 2022 at 8:26 am

    I’ll be interested to hear how it goes! I check my email an embarrassing number of times per day. Seriously, so many times. I might have mentioned this in a previous comment about email, but the constant checking can be a bad thing for me- because I pop in and out on my phone so much, I will see an important email or one that needs a response but not necessarily be in a position to deal with it. Like, if I’m quick checking email while doing something else, or not home, etc. Then, if I don’t get back to a real email clean out session for a while/several days, things can get missed. (Example- my son’s band teacher sent an email last week to tell me to order a new book. I replied “will do!” from my phone. But I wasn’t home/was busy and couldn’t order the book right away/didn’t want to actually deal with that email then. Well, shockingly, I then forgot about it and never ordered the book. Until the next lesson, when I realized I never ordered the book and he didn’t have it. Oops. If I had waited to check my email on my laptop, I could have either ordered the book right away, or added it to my to do list, etc. But bc I was just quick jumping in my email for two seconds, I saw just enough to be dangerous. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2022 at 9:48 am

      I know exactly what you mean – and yes, would rather see things WHEN I can actively deal with them!

    • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 23, 2022 at 10:31 am

      Kae, one thing I do to avoid this happening is to mark an email as unread if it requires follow-up. I mostly do this with work email that I read on my phone after hours. I also flag the email if it’s really important. I do not trust myself to remember to go back to read emails to do something! So that might be worth trying? I have never done this in Gmail, though, but I have to imagine they have a mark as unread option?

  • Reply Diane June 23, 2022 at 10:00 am

    “savoring and appreciating the (#*$ out of every moment”
    – made me laugh. It’s funny because email can be deigned as a distraction from savoring life. But sometimes savoring life distracts me from answering email….
    I like how you’ve made it a one day experiment- seems so much more manageable to think of these life tweaks one day at a time.
    I don’t know if your library has them, but our library has books called VoxBooks which are picture books with an audio box build in, so kids can listen and follow along. I guess it’s the modern day version of those book and tape sets I used to check out from the library when I was a child. My four and two year old love VoxBooks because they can push buttons themselves to make things happen and I love them because I don’t have to read Frog and Toad stories endlessly to them myself. They also have audio jacks so kids can listen without everyone having to hear.
    Also my five year old is no where close to reading but he can sit for a while with wordless picture books (Aaron Becker’s Journey series is fantastic) or even his older sister’s graphic novels. But also, I think I’m lucky that he is just naturally a sedentary kid.

  • Reply Coree June 23, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Ooh, I need to join you in this challenge post-holiday. Right now I’m obsessively checking email to see if my flight on Saturday has been cancelled (strikes) so I’ll give myself that. But my work email inbox is empty and I think I’m going to permanently close it for the next two weeks, there are no emergencies in academia.

  • Reply Noemi June 23, 2022 at 10:12 am

    If your library has the Hoopla app, they have a ton of Read-to-Me books and Hoopla is cool because all the titles are always available (unlike Libby, where all the digital copies can be in use and you have to wait for them to become available).

    I think G might be at a good age to listen to the Ivy and Bean audiobooks. My kids LOVED them and we’ve listened to them so many times. They are each about 60-90 minutes long and really fast paced. I feel like my kids listened to them at about G’s age. Definitely worth checking out.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      ooh I will check out both recs (Hoopla and Ivy & Bean specifically!)

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 23, 2022 at 10:34 am

    I am curious about this teach your child to read book! I am tempted to get it and try it with our son who turned 4 in March. I think he is probably going to be an early reader. He has been obsessed with books from a very young age. I thought this was just how kids are if you read to them a lot but our 2nd child has shown us that is NOT the case as he is not very interested in books which breaks my heart. 🙁

    I check my email a ridiculous number of times/day. Work email is always up/constantly check but that is the nature of my job. Personal email does not need to be checked nearly as much as I do, but I do get a burst of joy when I read a blog comment or email from someone so it’s not necessarily a downside. I’m off social media so feel like I’ve reduced as much mindless stuff as I want to/need to. But my # of phone pick-ups/day is horrendous so I just choose not to focus on it. Ha.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      neither A nor C read early, whereas reportedly Josh and
      I both did. I tried “100 days” with A (that’s why we own it!) around age 5 but she is a stubborn perfectionist and was even at that age, and it failed. C took a LONG time to learn to read (including some remediation which was pricey and time consuming, but I’m so glad we did it). G might be my only hope. She is somewhat stubborn but not QUITE so touchy as A was/is . . .

      • Reply Irene June 23, 2022 at 12:38 pm

        My oldest taught herself to read using the endless academy reading games on the iPad. She was honestly reading at 3 with no instruction from either parent. She really was motivated though. My son is not and is still not reading at 4 although he is recognizing a couple sight words I think. It’s really just the kids personality/interest and it clicks when it clicks so I take no credit for any of it, although she did really enjoy those games. To be honest my DD has been very bored in school reading so if anything it has made us less motivated to get our younger one ahead.

        • Reply Irene June 23, 2022 at 12:41 pm

          Oh but my point was you could get her to do some early literacy games when the older kids are reading. I don’t think it’s necessary but I’m going to do a little with my son over the summer to make sure he doesn’t forget everything he learned. I think once a week is plenty. In addition to the iPad games we like Boogle junior (which she can do independently) and sight word Zingo (need two people but maybe A would play with her?) I am a big believer in making learning fun at home.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2022 at 3:08 pm

            good idea! She actually shows a lot of signs of reading readiness (this is the beauty of Montessori vs Reggio I think!) and the other iPad games she gravitates towards are .. . not educational. At all 🙂

          • Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 24, 2022 at 12:47 pm

            We played zingo w/ our 4yo last weekend at my parents and he LOVED it! A & C might like it too? We thought it was a fun game. Paul has been learning a lot by watching the show “Super Why” on PBS kids and then doing super why games on the PBS kids ap on his iPad. I will have to check out Boogle!

          • Sarah Hart-Unger June 24, 2022 at 3:50 pm

            Aww Super Y, both A&C were into that but I am not sure they learned much from it honestly!

  • Reply Brooke Kent June 23, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    I used that book on all 3 of our children around age 4/4.5. At that age, they were old enough to be interested in learning to read, but not so old that they fought the book’s structured approach. 😉 Additionally, having the book’s foundation in phonics was so useful, as our older 2 children went through kindergarten/1st grade when our school district wasn’t teaching phonics. (They were using a “whole language”/natural discovery approach instead, wh/ studies show is much less effective than phonics in terms of learning to read.)

  • Reply Kirsten June 24, 2022 at 12:39 am

    Have you heard of the email app “Superhuman”? We used it at my last job and it is AMAZING. Filled with so many shortcuts, organization, automated reminders, etc etc. Incredible increase in email efficiency and really helps maintain good email hygiene (is it weird to call it that?). Not sure if you would be able to use it with your work email which probably goes through a specialty encryption for hospital/clinic communications, but I know it is seamless with any gmail based clients, and probably many others. You should check it out!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 24, 2022 at 5:36 am

      oooh very interesting! also, HI!!! <3

  • Reply Amanda June 24, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Also check if your library has Wonderbooks, which are picture books that read to you. We recently got a big collection at my library and kids love them.

  • Reply Irena June 27, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    I also check my work email about 4 times per day, and my personal about once per day, and I find it enough. I am a research scientist, so i do need long stretches of uninterrupted time to analyze the data, work on my grant applications, write-up proposal and articles, etc. My work buddies know that about me, and everyone seems to be fine. However when there are times of setting up a new study (like recruiting volunteers from the hospital, especially children!) i get like hundreds of emails per day, but these days come and go, because we don’t start a new study every month. But i do understand that this email habit is work-specific. I hope you get to enjoy some un-interrupted time, it does magic for my brain 😉

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