Modern workers are accustomed to being distracted by email, but a new study out of the University of California at Irvine reveals that compulsive email-checking can cannibalize your focus levels and boost stress. Researchers measured the second-by-second heart rates of two groups of suburban office workers: one that abandoned email for five full days and one that checked email normally. How did the groups fare?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group that ditched email had more natural heart rates, while the group that used email had heart rates that were in a constant state of "high alert." The former group also reported higher productivity and feeling more in control of their work.
Gloria Mark, who led the study, reported that many of the participants discovered how unimportant most of their received emails were. "Of course, for some jobs [email] is necessary, she added, citing a customer service employee as an example, "but for most of the other people, they discovered just how unnecessary email was."
While Mark doesn't think businesses can ever quit their email habit, she does recommend that employees take occasional days off of email if they can get approval from supervisors to do so: "It would be good for their health."
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