Email is a critical communication channel but can result in a lot of wasted time, depending on how you use it.
Researcher Diana Booher points to a joint survey between her team and the University of Northern Colorado’s Social Research Lab that found:
- 42 percent of respondents spent 3 hours or more per day reading and responding to email.
- 55 percent of respondents checked their email hourly or just left it open.
- 31 percent spent at least 20 minutes daily searching for information to include in email messages or to attach to an email.
- 48 percent of the survey’s respondents called email their primary method of communication, above phone calls, texting, and face-to-face conversation.
While email makes it easy to contact customers and coworkers, it also makes it easy to lose focus.
In one study, researchers Gloria Mark, Daniela Gudith, and Ulrich Klocke examined the “disruption cost” of interruptions such as email alerts. Their study found that people who are interrupted at work need 23 minutes, on average, to return to the pre-interruption level of attention they were giving a task.
That attention restart appears to come out of a person’s individual capacity for managing stress and frustration. Email interruption, then, could be a significant factor in employee burnout.