Monday, 27 June 2016 03:35

Emails Are Killing You, New Research Says


Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Knowing the truth isn't enough sometimes.

You need academics to point out the obvious so that you can huff that, of course, their conclusions are obvious and then you go back to doing nothing about it.

This, therefore, is how you might react to research from the Future Work Centre, a group of psychologists who analyze how work is affecting you.

Thanks to technology, it's not affecting you well.

Indeed, these researchers suggest that the mere existence of the email system leads to enormous stress.

Dr. Richard MacKinnon, the lead author of the study, declared: "Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it's clear that it's a source of stress or frustration for many of us."

You knew that, of course. But what have you done about it? Nada, perhaps?

Consider this, then.

MacKinnon concluded: "The people who reported it [email] being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure. But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organizational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and well-being."

He's British. He was being nice. It isn't that it could be negatively impacting our well-being. It is.

You know that it is. You feel the mental burden every morning when you open your laptop or stare at your phone in bed and see that there are 50 or 60 emails demanding your eyes and mind.

Do you remember what it was like when you just woke up and wondered: "I wonder what today will bring?"

Now, today has already brought a ton of problems before you've even had a chance to brush your teeth.

There's a certain tragedy in reading MacKinnon's assertion that those who find email most useful feel the most pressure.

Indeed, he and his team found that the two worst habits are keeping your email app open all day and checking your email first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

It's in this area that researchers want you to stop and think. And even do.

They suggest switching your email off and opening it only when you actually have a positive reason to be using it.

But that requires effort and discipline. You're too weak to do that, aren't you? It's so hard when your bosses are workaholics -- either naturally or out of fear -- and expect you to be always "on."

Moreover, technology is often designed to hook you and keep you hooked. It's created the notion that you could be missing out on something very important, something that could affect your day, your week, or even your career.

We live with only one eye on our lives. The other eye is always on the lookout for, well, something else -- a problem, a danger, a demand, or even an opportunity.

And then we wonder that we're slowly going mad.

We begin to loathe our dependence on gadgets, even as we sit in a restaurant with our lovers completely ignoring them in favor of, oh, a work email.

One tiny light of hope emerged from this research. It was that the youngest people feel the most email stress.

Perhaps the older ones know how to handle it better because they know that 99 percent of all office communication is simply windbaggery and balderdash.



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