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irresistable.jpgI’m a “zero email” enthusiast. I’m obsessed with getting my email inbox down to zero emails. It turns our millions of us have this same addiction. The problem with those like me who suffer with email zero is that with 300 or so emails a day, we spend so much time focused on email that we are never in the productivity zone. 

But my obsession with technology is far less disruptive than those with an online gambling addiction or people who are so focused on gaming that they wear diapers so they don’t need to leave the game to go to the toilet.

In his new book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Adam Alter looks at the age of behavioral addiction. (Hat tip to Seth Godin for alerting me to this excellent book.)

Alter describes an age in which half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. 

Get this: Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and Millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.

A must read for marketers

This book is a must read for marketers because it clearly lays out how you can build addictive behavior into products and services. By knowing the qualities of being irresistible, you can harness that force for good… and understand when it becomes too powerful.

For many people, social media, video, and smart technology takes up a third of our lives (or more). When you factor out work and sleeping, many of us aren’t leaving any time for friends and family. We “don’t have time” for that big project we’ve always wanted to do.

With rules, you can manage the deluge

Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in January 2010 by saying “What this device does is extraordinary…” for 90 minutes he explained how the new iPad was the best way to interact with all kinds of digital data. He believed that everyone should own an iPad.

But Steve Jobs refused to let his own kids use an iPad.

A simple bit of advice Alter provides are rules for the evening. Don't look at any screens in the hour or two before bed because the blue light disrupts your body rhythms. And never, ever leave your phone in the bedroom because it is too tempting to glance at. 

Me? I’m doing my best to resist email zero. It’s really tough. But when I do, I can get real work done. Like write this blog post.

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