Slave to the inbox

Aug 22 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

In an example of research that hardly needed to be funded to know what the outcome will be, a study from the UK has revealed that checking e-mail regularly at the office increases stress levels and diminishes stress levels. Wow - I never would have guessed that!

The study found that some people check e-mail up to 30-40 times per hour. Why this is a surprise to anyone is more surprising to me!

There's an expression that goes "good things come in small packages; unfortunately, the corollary is also true. Bad things come in short messages. E-mail, for better or worse, has become the de facto communication standard, both professionally and personally speaking. The trick is to arrange e-mail so that it doesn't bog down your work day. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.

The author of the study suggests spending dedicated, read: shorter, periods of time for checking e-mail. This is practical advice for reading personal e-mail, but in the workplace, it's likely not something liable to work in the office place.

Suppose that your work is largely e-mail oriented Ė you work with offshore or otherwise remote teams; perhaps you are a support engineer, or you work in customer service? E-mail is essentially your life in such cases.

Still, e-mails can be a great source of stress. In this modern age, people expect information quickly Ė on the web, over mobile technology, etc. This includes e-mail responses; can you imagine not getting a response to an e-mail at the office in less than 23 hours? Yes, we've become spoiled.

If people truly want to manage e-mail so that they can remain productive, there are some steps they can take, such as filtering e-mail messages. Prioritizing your inbox can help you answer what needs to be answered and wait until later to respond to others. Otherwise, you'll go from slave to your wage to slave to your inbox.

Older Comments

It's amazing but I guess checking email so very frequently is addictive! Poor managers of their emails get so used to it that they simply MUST check their mail every now and then. To make it worse, they feel every email received MUST be relied to at become

Prem Rao Bangalore, India