An article from The Observer on The Guardian website confirms what we perhaps all knew already: “Employees are becoming tired, frustrated and unproductive after constantly monitoring the electronic messages that keep interrupting them as they try to concentrate at work.” The research that this article is based on was carried out among academics and people in creative jobs. People were asked how often they thought they switched applications to look at their mail, and were then monitored to see how often they really did so — much more frequently than they themselves had thought.
The problem is that when you go back to what you were doing, you’ve lost your chain of thought and, of course, you are less productive. People’s brains get tired from breaking off from something every few minutes to check emails. […] Workers in creative occupations or jobs involving periods of concentration focusing on getting an important project finished – such as academics, writers, architects and journalists – were likely to be worst affected, she said, while those in call centres for whom constant emails were integral to their work would not have the same problem.
Perhaps this academic year I should really start to check my mail only twice a day, and switch off the mail program when I’m writing or reading. I’ve said this to myself before, but I’m just too curious to be able to stick to this idea for more than a day or so.
How often do you check your mail?