New Study Reveals Constantly Checking Emails Increases Stress & Reduces Focus

A new study published by the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California – Irvine revealed that being cut off from email during the work day reduces stress levels and focus.

This merely adds further proof as to how distracting (and dare we say addicting?) it is to constantly check your in-box and smart phone.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army asked subjects to stop checking messages at work. Keeping in mind it was a rather small study with 13 subjects in total, employees without email access reported they felt better about doing their job and staying on task. Plus, there were less interruptions throughout the day. Here’s the scoop…

Heart rate monitors were attached to the employees to determine their stress levels as software devices figured out how frequently they switched computer screens. Turns out, subjects who didn’t have email access for five days had lower heart rates than subjects who did have access. Not only that, but subjects who constantly read their emails had heart rates that were considered to be a “high alert” state.

Get this — email users also changed computer screens 37 times per hour! As for subjects who didn’t have access to emails? They toggled 18 times.

Dr. Gloria Mark, UC-Irvine informatics professor and co-author of the study, told The Wall Street Journal, “We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress.”

That said, they also experience more isolation. She pointed out that subjects “reported feeling that they were cut off from the organization, that they were missing out.”

Researchers concluded checking messages during specific times throughout the day rather than continuously could produce productivity and benefit both employees and employers.