Most of us are totally hooked on e-mail. We couldn’t imagine life without it. If my Outlook isn’t flashing a preview of my latest e-mail, my iPhone is buzzing.
I came across a really interesting article on e-mail titled, “E-mail’s Dark Side: 10 Psychology Studies.” Some interesting findings include:
You check more than you think. According to this study, participants claim to check their e-mails, on average, once an hour. “However, when the researchers spied on them, it turned out they checked their e-mail every five minutes.” I don’t know that I’m checking it that frequently but it’s certainly more than once an hour.
E-mail eats a quarter of the working day. Researchers found that “this is because people are not just using e-mail to communicate, they are also using it as a way of tracking tasks.” I guess I fall in that camp: Every day I create a task list for myself in Outlook and check it throughout the day to monitor if I’m on track.
It takes 64 seconds to recover from an e-mail. Participants took about a minute to recover their train of thought after an interruption.
Low rapport when using e-mail. My boss complains that no one uses the phone anymore. She has a point. Researchers found that “even a single telephone call can create enough good feeling between the parties to bridge the rapport gap.”
Here’s one of my pet peeves—delivering sensitive news by e-mail. Occasionally, a colleague decides to deliver unpleasant news that could be upsetting using e-mail. To make matters worse, they “cc” a bunch of people on the e-mail. Is it too much to ask to deliver the information in person in a somewhat sensitive way? On a related note, one of the studies notes that “people tend to be more negative in e-mail.”
Check out the study (external link).