Is electronic mail stressing you out?

A new study that was recently conducted by two Scottish researchers revealed that a third of office workers suffer from stress related to the non-ending flow of emails arriving in their in-boxes.

Of the 177 people interviewed by the team at the University of Glasgow and the University of Paisley, 34 percent of workers felt stressed by the number of the emails they received and felt obliged to reply quickly. More than half of those surveyed said they checked their in-box more than once an hour, while 35 per cent sheepishly admitted to checking for new messages every 15 minutes.

I’m not exactly sure if 177 subjects is enough to make the results of this study relevant, so let’s do our own research. How often do you check your in-box? Are you an email junkie, and if you are, do you think this makes you less productive and more prone to suffer from stress? Let us know in the comments section below.

The curse of inbox overload (telegraph.co.uk)

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16 Responses to Is electronic mail stressing you out?

  1. I don't have a set time period for checking emails while at work. I check it whenever I see a notification that I have a new message. I would say that on average I am probably checking my email every 10-15 minutes.

    In my particular case I do at least 50% of my work via email so the constant checking is not hurting my productivity. If anything it is helping it. However, I think this will vary quite a bit from industry to industry. Almost every industry uses email today, however some positions will naturally do more with the technology than others.

    This study does not surprise me. With so many emails traveling across the world every second we are barraged with new tasks and problems all the time. Years ago when you came back from vacation you might have a voice mail message or two waiting for you when you return. Now, when someone comes back from vacation they still have the voice mail messages and now might have a hundred emails waiting for them to read. The digital age has certainly added new problems to productivity.

    However, without email the business world would slow down dramatically. We can't escape from the new technology. Although it can be stressful our jobs would be even more difficult without it.

  2. I don’t have a set time period for checking emails while at work. I check it whenever I see a notification that I have a new message. I would say that on average I am probably checking my email every 10-15 minutes.

    In my particular case I do at least 50% of my work via email so the constant checking is not hurting my productivity. If anything it is helping it. However, I think this will vary quite a bit from industry to industry. Almost every industry uses email today, however some positions will naturally do more with the technology than others.

    This study does not surprise me. With so many emails traveling across the world every second we are barraged with new tasks and problems all the time. Years ago when you came back from vacation you might have a voice mail message or two waiting for you when you return. Now, when someone comes back from vacation they still have the voice mail messages and now might have a hundred emails waiting for them to read. The digital age has certainly added new problems to productivity.

    However, without email the business world would slow down dramatically. We can’t escape from the new technology. Although it can be stressful our jobs would be even more difficult without it.

  3. I suffer from stress a lot due to my habit of frequently checking email. I tend to check my email probably 5 times within 30 mins if I am expecting something. And that definitely slows me down in terms of productivity.

    http://www.worknplay.net

  4. I suffer from stress a lot due to my habit of frequently checking email. I tend to check my email probably 5 times within 30 mins if I am expecting something. And that definitely slows me down in terms of productivity.

    http://www.worknplay.net

  5. I keep my email open and have it set to auto-check every 5 minutes. Whenever I receive a message I'll glance at who it is from and the subject. If it looks like something that warrants immediate attention (very rare) then I'll attend to it. Otherwise if I'm in the middle of something I'll either leave it marked as unread or flag it for follow up. Then when I get a break from my work I'll take some time to address the various emails that I've queued up for handling.

  6. I keep my email open and have it set to auto-check every 5 minutes. Whenever I receive a message I’ll glance at who it is from and the subject. If it looks like something that warrants immediate attention (very rare) then I’ll attend to it. Otherwise if I’m in the middle of something I’ll either leave it marked as unread or flag it for follow up. Then when I get a break from my work I’ll take some time to address the various emails that I’ve queued up for handling.

  7. In my job (developer) I spend so much time having to reply to emails from project management, QA, testing, other team members, admin etc that it's rare to get even quarter an hour of focused work. It's exhausting and distracting to have to do this day-in day-out and it reduces work throughput to a crawl.

    One guy (older – 50s) I was talking to about it hit the nail on the head perhaps when he pointed out that people seemed to think things through a lot less these days and just phoned instead!.. ie. if they didn't know something they just automatically phone/email someone else.

    Now although I know that trying to reinvent the wheel yourself or not asking for help when you need it – is a bad thing… the increasing culture of "think less and ask more" surely is the cause of the much of the daily "internal" email traffic in many companies – and is a waste of resources and a constant stress for those involved.

  8. In my job (developer) I spend so much time having to reply to emails from project management, QA, testing, other team members, admin etc that it’s rare to get even quarter an hour of focused work. It’s exhausting and distracting to have to do this day-in day-out and it reduces work throughput to a crawl.

    One guy (older – 50s) I was talking to about it hit the nail on the head perhaps when he pointed out that people seemed to think things through a lot less these days and just phoned instead!.. ie. if they didn’t know something they just automatically phone/email someone else.

    Now although I know that trying to reinvent the wheel yourself or not asking for help when you need it – is a bad thing… the increasing culture of “think less and ask more” surely is the cause of the much of the daily “internal” email traffic in many companies – and is a waste of resources and a constant stress for those involved.

  9. I check whenever I get a notification (bouncing dock icon if I'm using a mac, popup in the bottom-right if I'm using a PC email client, or a little ding if I'm using the Gmail notifier on either mac or PC)

    IMAP and automatic checking has made it so that I don't have to worry about "checking" my email, since I don't have to use a web portal to keep it stored on the server, and I don't have to worry about missing an important email with the notifications. If I leave my desk, I can always bring up the window for an instant and see if anything has arrived, but I very rarely get stressed about it.

    Then again, I know that if the sender doesn't get an error response, it means the recipient has the email in their box… so I don't worry about instant replies. I get to things when I have time, and it's worked out well for me so far.

  10. I check whenever I get a notification (bouncing dock icon if I’m using a mac, popup in the bottom-right if I’m using a PC email client, or a little ding if I’m using the Gmail notifier on either mac or PC)

    IMAP and automatic checking has made it so that I don’t have to worry about “checking” my email, since I don’t have to use a web portal to keep it stored on the server, and I don’t have to worry about missing an important email with the notifications. If I leave my desk, I can always bring up the window for an instant and see if anything has arrived, but I very rarely get stressed about it.

    Then again, I know that if the sender doesn’t get an error response, it means the recipient has the email in their box… so I don’t worry about instant replies. I get to things when I have time, and it’s worked out well for me so far.