E-Mail Vacation Lowers Stress Levels: Study

A new study by researchers of the University of California shows that people who do not regularly check their e-mail at work are less stressed and more productive.

For their trial called “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work without Email,” researchers of the University of California, Irvine measured stress levels of 13 workers at a suburban office outside Boston by recording their hear rates during daily work time.  Some of the participants were asked to check their email-filled days as usual while others were asked to forget about emails for a full five-day work week. 

During the e-mail hiatus, the studied people spent longer periods of time focusing on a single task at work and shifted between computer windows much less. 

The data also showed that regular e-mail users “switched windows an average of 37 times per hour. Those without changed screens half as often – about 18 times in an hour.” 

Results of the stress test also revealed that those who refused to check their e-mail experienced much less stress than the inbox glued colleagues. 

“We were able to get second-by-second stress levels from our tests and we found that over the five-day period away from e-mail, people’s stress levels went down compared with when they were using e-mails,” said lead author Gloria Mark. 

“The fact that we found that people are less stressed when they don’t have e-mail shows that there are ways to change the way we use e-mail in the work setting,” explained Mark who suggested e-mail vacation to those obsessively checking their inbox. 

“We suggest doing what we call batching e-mails, where organizations send e-mails once or twice a day, rather than continually, so employees know not to check their e-mail every 10 minutes,” she said.

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