Ditch email updates to cut down on stress - report
Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30
Constant email updates are a source of stress that people should consider doing without, according to a report by psychologists.
One of the study's key recommendations is not to have an email app running all the time - something many technology users would regard as heresy.
The report, from the London-based Future Work Centre, which conducts psychological research on people's workplace experiences, said emails were a "double-edged sword" that provided a useful means of communication but could also be a source of frustration.
Urging users to seize control of their email instead of being ruled by it, the authors said: "You may want to consider launching your email application when you want to use email and closing it down for periods when you don't wish to be interrupted by incoming emails.
"In other words, use email when you intend to, not just because it's always running in the background."
The team surveyed almost 2,000 working people about the pros and cons of using email.
They found that two of the most stressful habits were leaving email on all day and checking emails early in the morning and late at night.
There was a "strong relationship" between use of the "push" feature, that automatically updates emails on devices as soon as they arrive, and perceived email pressure.
Higher email pressure was associated with more examples of work having a negative effect on home life.
Lead author Dr Richard MacKinnon said: "Our research shows email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it's clear that it's a source of stress for many of us."
Email pressure was highest among younger people, and steadily decreased with age, according to the findings presented at the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology annual meeting in Nottingham.
Those working in IT, marketing, public relations, internet companies and the media were most affected by email stress.
In 2014, an estimated 196.3bn emails were sent around the world, according to the report.
The average adult spent more than an hour a day consulting emails.