How Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is Killing Your Productivity

Every second of everyday, we are barraged with TV and internet ads, special sales, loyalty program offers and marketing messages cleverly designed to instill FOMO and to make us want to buy “stuff”. Of course, we need some “stuff”, but it takes serious mental strength to resist the FOMO and the constant pull toward over-buying.

“May we have your email address so that you can receive special promotions?”

Every time we visit a store (physical or online) we are asked for our email address so that we can receive coupons and special offers. We give out our email, we join the loyalty program because we might miss out on a good sale or promotion if we don’t. Even if we don’t frequent a particular store more than once a year, we don’t want to miss out on something special, so we sign up.

Cluttered Inbox = Less Productivity

Our email boxes get clogged with daily offers from retailers vying for our attention. Three things happen as a result. First, we lose productive time because our email becomes visually cluttered. Instead of getting work done, we may need to spend time deleting unwanted emails. Secondly, since we don’t want to potentially miss out, we may browse the retailer websites, again taking time and energy away from work we actually need to get done. Thirdly, since it’s so hard to resist a “deal”, we over-buy, and sometimes this creates errands for later – returning or exchanging what we bought – again, taking time and energy away from our actual to-do list.

Some Helpful Suggestions

There are a couple of ways to alleviate this and improve your productivity. The most obvious way is to be very selective about who gets our email address. Additionally, we can create a separate email account which we use only for retail offers and coupons. This way our personal email account doesn’t fill up with distracting junk mail. Alternately, we can create a folder in email and create a rule so offers go directly into the designated folder. Lastly, realizing that our tendency toward over-buying is a result of incessant marketing thrown at us, we need to pause before every purchase, and consider – is it FOMO or is this purchase something we actually need?


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