How much does email contribute to your stress levels at work and home? Is Email helping us be more effective? I’m guessing most of us haven’t spent much time pondering its effects on our lives. The research I’ve found confirms that we should be very concerned about the effects email has on us personally, professionally, as well as the total impact on the organizations we work within.
So what does the research I found say?
- Email does, in fact, increase our stress levels.
- The average person spends over 25% of their workweek reading and responding to email.
- Less than 50% of emails deserve our attention.
- Many employee hours are wasted checking email, which disrupts our ability to stay focused on the tasks that matter most.
So what can we do about email and its impact on our personal and professional well-being? Possible considerations for employees and organizations to proactively address email overload are:
- Schedule daily time slots to check emails, rather than constantly or sporadically throughout the day; this will help you to stay focused and remain present for things that matter.
- Ensure your organization has clear employee expectations about how often voicemail and email should be checked.
- Promote email best practices and provide training for an organization’s leadership team, and then all employees. Many things shouldn’t be done via email, and training and accountability are how you change email culture.
- Adopt a staff newsletter approach to be more strategic about what needs to be communicated, rather than flurries of emails that pile up quickly and probably don’t even get read.
- If more than a couple of emails a required to effectively address an issue or it’s a touchy subject, schedule a meeting and take the time to build an agenda with meaningful outcomes beforehand.
These are my initial ideas on how to address the email epidemic. I’d love to hear from anyone that has ideas about how we can reduce the clutter in our inboxes and become more effective, efficient, and healthy. Next time you start composing an email, remember that it is a one-way communication tool, so if you’re hoping to fully engage with someone or a team, you might consider a different way to communicate.
- Email Overload: Research and Statistics
- Email Duration, Batching and Self-interruption: Patterns of Email Use on Productivity and Stress