Checking Email

Checking Email

Every so often we come across some research in Psychology that is applicable to the general public as well as the work situation in particular. Whenever such information comes across our desks we intend to publish it here on the blog. So keep checking in to see the latest groundbreaking information that could make you life so much better.

Starting off we found some research about email. Email is part of our daily lives. It used to be confined to the computer when you had to log in to receive email. It “lived” in a restricted space.

Nowadays email have permeated nearly every aspect of our lives. With smartphones and tablet computers email is everywhere and is a considerable source of stress.

This research study found that we could reduce stress by doing something as simple as checking email less frequently.

How common is email? The Radicati Group Inc. predicts that there will be 4.9 billion email accounts by 2017. Business email accounts are by far the largest users of email. Their report into the use of email suggests that in 2013 over a 100 billion emails were sent every day. cites the numbers as closer to 300 billion per day as far back as 2010. cites a more moderate 144.8 billion emails. It doesn’t matter which way you look at it. The fact is we get a lot of email and it causes a lot of stress.

Kushlev & Dunn (2015) suggests that checking email less frequently reduces stress. You can see the article that was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour here. They found three things in their research:

  • Limiting the frequency of checking email throughout the day reduced daily stress.
  • Lower daily stress predicts greater well-being (e.g., higher positive affect).
  • The frequency of checking email did not directly impact other well-being outcomes.

The rest of the information can be found in the article cited above can be found by clicking the link, but what can you do about it? How do you actually reduce the amount of time you check email? We found the following strategies: suggest a few good strategies around email:

  1. Check email only at set times during the day (e.g. 10am, just before lunch 12.30pm and just before you go home 4:30pm)
  2. Set your email client (e.g. Outlook) only check email at the times you want to check. Or turn the auto-check function off and do it manually. has a few more strategies:

  1. Reduce incoming emails by unsubscribing to spam and junk mail
  2. Turn off notifications (that annoying box that jumps up on the screen to tell you that there is email waiting)
  3. Use the filters that come with your email client (e.g. set up some rules on Outlook to move unimportant emails to certain folders etc.)

Or you could simply delete your email…

Sounds crazy, but this strategy is actally working very effectively at Daimler’s headquarters in Germany. When employees go on holiday they get to turn on a setting that puts their “mail on holiday”. When someone sends them an email while they are on holiday the email is just simply deleted. The sender receives an email saying the email didn’t go through and they need to try to reach another person. The benefit of this is that the employee who is on holiday gets to totally unplug since they know all emails will be deleted. So even if they wanted to check their email sneakily it wouldn’t be possible because there aren’t any. Secondly the person comes back to work without having a mountain of email to sift through. Fantastic idea!

Next time we go on holiday, we will definitely be trying that one out.