Checking your email too often could be stressing you out, even if you don't feel like your inbox plays a significant role in your wellbeing.

In a study performed by psychologists at the University of British Columbia, 124 adults were recruited so that researchers could examine the effects of checking email on productivity and cognitive resources in general.

One half of the group was instructed to check email as often as they could while the other was restricted to three times daily. The second group also turned off email alerts and logged out of their accounts.

Those who checked their email frequently reported feeling less in control of their lives and had trouble coping with things they had to do that day. To control for individual personality differences, the researchers had the groups switch tasks halfway through the study.

Checking email more frequently, say researchers, means being less efficient. Individuals who checked their email three times a day spent twenty percent less time responding to messages.

Frequent inbox monitoring also sidetracks people from their primary project, sapping the cognitive resources they have to spend on a single task. 

Researchers say their is no magic number of times you should check your inbox, but closing the gap between impulse and necessity is a worthwhile goal.

In his Big Think interview, New York Times columnist Adam Bryant explains that email is also problematic in terms of building professional relationships, possibly even harming the very tissue of the corporate body:


Read more at the New York Times

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