The blog

Previous article

Next article

29 Nov

Reading a bunch of emails at a time reduces stress

Datum: 2017-11-29 07:27

Many of those I meet dur­ing my lec­tures and who write to me feel stressed due to the seem­ing­ly end­less amount of emails that keep pour­ing into their inboxes.

Researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, MIT and Microsoft did a study recent­ly on how our way of deal­ing with the inflow of email affects our stress lev­el and how pro­duc­tive we per­ceive our­selves to be.

This is sup­pos­ed­ly the first study mea­sur­ing the test sub­jects’ phys­i­cal stress lev­els and how they use their com­put­ers, that also asked them to report on how effi­cient and pro­duc­tive they per­ceive them­selves to be through­out their workday.

You decide when
The researchers found that those of us who receive great qual­i­ties of email become less stressed if we read (and process) our email in batch­es (referred to as batch­ing”) a few times dur­ing the day instead of check­ing and deal­ing with emails con­tin­u­ous­ly through­out the day as they arrive in our inbox. It reduces our stress lev­el and makes us feel more pro­duc­tive if we get to decide for our­selves when to check for emails, as opposed to when we let the email pro­gram and its noti­fi­ca­tions tell us when to deal with the recent­ly received messages.

So, if you usu­al­ly read emails as soon as you receive them, and have yet to turn off noti­fi­ca­tions regard­ing new mes­sages, this would be an excel­lent time to refine your struc­ture and email­ing by doing just that.

Do this

  1. Turn off the noti­fi­ca­tions and oth­er sig­nals which indi­cate that you’ve got mail”, so that it is **you**, and only you, who decide when you will attend to new emails — not the email client.

  2. Choose an appro­pri­ate inter­val at which you open the inbox and check for new mes­sages. There are those who choose to have a look once an hour, some not that often and oth­ers more frequently.

  3. When you do process the new emails,
    • Throw away the obvi­ous trash.
    • Answer those that only take a minute or two to respond to immediately.
    • Cre­ate to-do-tasks for all the emails that will take longer to respond to, or for which you need to do some­thing before responding.

  4. Take care of as many emails as you can dur­ing the time you have set aside for pro­cess­ing cor­re­spon­dence every time you open the inbox.

Less stress, more productivity
Judg­ing by what the researchers found, you will feel less stressed if you process emails in batch­es and only open the inbox when you active­ly choose to. You will have longer stretch­es of time with­out inter­rup­tions dur­ing which you can do oth­er things than read­ing (and respond­ing to) emails, and if you are any­thing like the par­tic­i­pants in the study, tak­ing con­trol of your rela­tion­ship to emails will make you feel more pro­duc­tive as well.

How often do you open the gates?
At what inter­val do you open the flood­gates and active­ly choose to process the emails you con­tin­u­ous­ly receive? Every­body is dif­fer­ent and I would love to hear what works for you. Feel free to leave a com­ment and share.