You’ll want to avoid this ‘toxic source of stress’ in 2016

Support us and go ad-free

Looking for a stress-free 2016? Psychologists say it might be time to switch off your email popups, or find your own way to stop email from taking over your life.

If you find yourself checking email before bed (or even in the middle of the night) and being distracted from the task at hand by the constant flash of your email popup, you’re not alone. In fact, you probably know it’s not good for you.

Research has already shown that email notifications can interrupt your flow (productivity hat, anyone?) and cut into your work/life balance. Even looking at the glowing screen at night can stop you sleeping properly.

Now a new report by psychologists at the Future Work Centre reveals that email notifications, and checking emails late at night, puts us under pressure and causes stress. We don’t all experience it the same way though – the stress we feel depends on our personality. The report authors say this means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing email stress.

Emails are great: they’re convenient and quick, you can send them to anyone at any time, and you can answer them when you’re ready. 2.6 billion people use email worldwide, for an average of an hour a day; if you work in an office, you might spend much more time reading and replying to messages. In fact, 108 billion of the 196 billion emails sent in 2014 were work-related.

Christina Patino, Corporate Programmes Co-ordinator for the Bradford University School of Management, told BBC Breakfast:

[Email] does cause a lot of stress because people feel they need to give off the impression that they’re constantly working, and a lot of times this can be due to poor performance reviews or a lack of training as to what employees should be doing with their time or how they should be prioritising their work.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The researchers behind the new report say emails are a double-edged sword: there’s no agreed code of conduct, they can be misunderstood and they’re definitely not always useful.

Future Work Centre surveyed almost 2,000 people in the UK, asking them about their use of email and experience of pressure and stress. The psychologists asked people questions about things like whether they feel pressure from colleagues or clients to check email outside of working hours and whether work-related emails are the cause of arguments or friction in their personal life.

The research revealed a “strong relationship between using ‘push’ email and perceived email pressure.” This means that if you get automatic notifications, or popups, when you receive emails, you’re more likely to experience higher pressure related to email. This was particularly true for people who leave their emails on all day, rather than checking them at set times.

The report found that the pressure and stress depends on the person and their personality. The report says “People who rate their own ability and sense of control over their environment lower find that work interferes more with their home life, and vice versa.”

They also found the stress was more pronounced in younger people and managers. Psychologist Richard

, Future Work Centre’s Insight Director who wrote the report, explained to BBC Breakfast:

Email pressure was much higher with younger respondents and it trailed off with age. We think it could be for a number of reasons. Number one, you get better at dealing with email, at prioritising. But younger people tend to have more inboxes – social media as well as email – so they’re probably juggling more of these things.

MacKinnon and his colleagues now plan to examine their findings in more detail to understand how to best manage email-related stress.

The new report adds another piece to the puzzle when it comes to understanding what effect email has on our lives. While it doesn’t directly show cause and effect, it reveals a strong link between automatic notifications, pressure and stress. So if you’re suffering from constant email disturbances, it might be a good time to switch off your notifications and go cold-turkey in 2016.


Featured image: Jason Rogers/Flickr



Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed