Addicted to Email? Just Say No

Cramer returns with some personal advice for those who can't shut off their PCs.
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A personal reminiscence on the eve of my return to my turret at

Cramer Berkowitz

.

Please permit me, a traveler back from a week in the U.K., to give all of those spouses who take family vacations a bit of advice: leave the personal computer at home, for once. Last week, I didn't take my PC, I was not on email, and nothing happened.

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If you are like me, email has pretty much usurped your nonoffice hours. It is a way to stay involved, keep the beat, trounce the competition, stay focused and never lose touch.

Since the time I learned of email -- in late '95 -- I have been addicted. With the start of

TheStreet.com

in 1996, I surrendered any autonomy I may have had at home to email. Or so I thought.

As the weeks led up to our trip, my children, 5 and 8, began to plead with me every night to leave Igor -- i.e., my evil assistant -- at home. Still, the possibility of going cold turkey seemed ludicrous, and I had every intention of communicating both with the office at Cramer Berkowitz and anyone who may have needed me at

TheStreet.com

.

My children would not be appeased. They insisted that Igor would ruin the vacation, that when we got back after a long day of sightseeing, I would put Igor on and they would have to play without me.

The night before we left, I agreed with them.

The consequences? OK, I had about a thousand unread emails, probably some more when I return to the office. I missed a couple of "important" opportunities. I did not get my daily dose of people saying they are grateful for

TheStreet.com

. I did not have to field reporters who wanted to know what is going on at

TheStreet.com

.

Most of all, when we got back to the hotel each night, I played with my kids.

There, that's the only point I wanted to make. Leave it at home for once. I am not being sanctimonious, I am being practical. I never thought I could leave Igor off for a week. I thought it would somehow destroy my ethic.

It saved it.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.