How do I automatically lock myself out of Google Mail?

I want to be locked out of Google Mail if I spent more than X hours in a given day on email. Anyhow knows how to do it?

Right now, I spend about two to three hours (as measured by rescuetime) on Of course, not all of it is random chatting:

  • I mark student assignments in Yes! I actually give feedback to my students by email. No paper involved!
  • I receive warnings in about any change a collaborator made to a shared file.
  • Many administrative duties translate into email processing. Back when I was chairing the master degree in IT, I would accept or turn down students based on an electronic c.v. sent by email.

Then about three to four hours of my day is spent on actual research work. The rest of my work day (one or two hours) is usually invested in blogging, browsing web sites, surfing on wikipedia, and so on.

Daniel Lemire, "How do I automatically lock myself out of Google Mail?," in Daniel Lemire's blog, January 12, 2009.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

7 thoughts on “How do I automatically lock myself out of Google Mail?”

  1. There is a Google labs add-on that lets you “take a break”, effectively locking Gmail for 15 minutes. Of course, you have to actually hit the button to activate it, so it’s not a complete solution.

  2. It would be great if you could configure OpenDNS to block certain sites based on time. But if you want to block based on usage, perhaps a local machine based tool would be better.


    “No paper involved!”

    On a related note, let me pose a question: how much energy / carbon emissions do you save by restricting your student/course interactions on email rather than on print?

    At first sight, paper seems to be the bad guy, (imagine chopped trees!!).

    However, given that Google would need to archive, replicate and serve the email from spinning hard disks for a long long time, is there a real saving of carbon emissions by communicating to your (local) students by email only?

    (Here is a related talk on energy cost of data centers.)

  3. I recently turned off the automatic email notification tool in both Outlook and the Google Talk add-on for Gmail. At least this way email is less disruptive with my work flow. However, I’m yet to see whether it causes complications when email arrives that does actually requires immediate response.

    On a related point it would be good if there were an email system intelligent enough to know when to notify me immediately and when to leave me alone.

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