Countering Email Overload

How often during the day do you check your email? Are you wired so that when the notification sounds you react like Pavlov’s dog and jump into your Inbox? It’s tough to ignore the sound, it’s like a tap on your shoulder or a call from behind you. Naturally you want to answer, see what’s happening or be distracted from a mundane task. But did you also know email overload not only affects your productivity but can also affect your health?

Email Overload - DataComm

In a study  funded by the Army and the National Science Foundation researchers attached heart monitors to computer users in a suburban office setting while software sensors detected how often they switched windows. People who read email changed screen twice as often and were in a steady “high alert” state with more constant heart rates. Those in the study who were removed from email for five days  experienced more variable and natural heart rates.

“We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said UCI informatics professor Gloria Mark, a co-author of the study.

Those with no email reported feeling better able to do their jobs and stay on task, with fewer stressful and time-wasting interruptions. The findings could be useful for boosting productivity and suggested that controlling email login times, batching messages or other strategies might be helpful.

Peter Bregman, author of the book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, suggest a schedule when dealing with email.

Rather then checking email continuously and from different devices, set up specific times to deal with it while you’re at your computer. Consider all other time email-free time. He suggests bulk processing email three times a day in 30 minute increments, morning, noon and end of the work day. Use a timer and obey the bell when it rings. Turn off the notification so you’re not continually teased. Use the telephone and actually speak to a co-worker if the matter is taking multiple emails to solve.

Working without distraction increases productivity, efficiency and we’re motivated to resolve issues faster. When we obey an email schedule we’re also prepared to focus solely on emails since we’ve cleared our minds just to deal with them and don’t waste time transitioning repeatedly from one task to another.

Keeping our heads down on our computer, mobile phone or tablet continuously takes the human talent out of our days. We are becoming increasingly isolated in the middle of our offices and we tether ourselves to our devices no matter where we are. There are very few occupations that require uninterrupted access so take a breath, turn on some music, chat up a co-worker or print and read a white paper in the park. Email can wait until you have the head for it.

If you’d like to learn how DataComm Plus can help with your communications needs please contact us today. Our managed services model allows your company to evolve with technology while also giving your employees the tools to manage their time efficiently. 

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