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Email Addiction

Baskar Sundaram
Every day the average office worker can receive up to two hundred emails. It takes approximately two and a half hours to read and respond to all of these emails. So why can’t we stop getting distracted from our work and dropping everything else to answer these emails?

‘You have new mail’ – The Science behind this

Every new email activates a release of dopamine in our brains which is a feel-good chemical released by the brain. We quite literally become addicted to this feel-good feeling and hence drop all else that we are working on to respond. But studies have found that the interruptions caused by these emails are more detrimental than was previously thought. In a study last year, Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after interruption by email.

Email – Addiction Rehab Tips

By employing a few useful techniques we can beat the email-bug and focus more continuously without the constant distraction.
  • Design a Reusable Template
A lot of time is spent formulating the structure of one’s email because we do not know what the other person is expecting. When joining a new work-team any uncertainty can be avoided by explaining up front what your style of email is. Do you prefer long well thought out complete sentences or are you okay with succinct dot-jot style notes. If this is clearly communicated you do not need to worry about thinking of the perfect salutation each time or even responding if there is no need. Just  design  a  reusable  template  that  will  save  your  time.
  • Time out
Another simple strategy is to turn off your email notifications or close the email tab on your computer. If we don’t hear the ping notification every so often we will not be as eager to respond immediately.
  • Fix an email schedule
The average worker check their email a whopping fifteen times per day. A good technique is to schedule two times a day when you will sit and respond to all your emails. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon is usually sufficient. It is also serve well to advise your coworkers that if they need you for something urgent, a call would be the quickest way to get into contact with you.
  • Respond immediately
Often times once we read an email we leave it to respond to at another time. This usually means that we come back and must re-read the email once again. All this time re-reading email adds up! Instead, once an email is read it is best to just reply immediately and finish the task completely so it does not need to be revisited.
  • Choose other mediums if possible
Depending on what the message you are trying to convey is, consider whether email is the most effective medium. For more complicated issues often times a quick ten minute meeting can take the place of a long email thread. And, remember you do not need to CC and BCC every single team member in every email that is sent. Including just the relevant people in a message can reduce the clutter by a lot. By employing these simple techniques you can beat the email addiction and actually get work done at work!
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