Are you one of the millions of workers worldwide guilty of checking your emails as soon as you wake up, and last thing before you go to sleep at night? If so, then you’re just putting pressure to yourself, thus, increase your anxiety levels.
A team from the Future Work Centre in the UK surveyed close to 2,000 people across various industries, sectors, and job roles, asking participants on how they managed their email and how much associated stress they felt as a result. Overall, those who spent the most time organizing and staying on top of messages felt the most email-related pressure too. According to Richard MacKinnon, one of the team,
Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us. The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure!”
The habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages, and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and well-being,” he added.
Two of the habits linked to more email-related stress were checking for messages first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Nearly half of those surveyed had push notifications set up for new email, while 62 percent of respondents left their email app open all day. Both were linked to higher levels of perceived email pressure. The survey also found that managers suffered more than non-managers.
The researchers suggest that an individual’s personality acts as a moderator between perceived email pressure and work-life balance: in other words, the relationship between email-related stress and the negative impact on home life is not the same for everyone.
MacKinnon admits there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but recommends turning off email notifications or planning the day before checking for new messages if you find the email pressure getting too much.
Not only does working too hard for too many hours cause stress on our emotions and physical bodies, it often cuts down on the time we spend asleep: time that’s essential if we need to successfully recharge our batteries and stay on top of our workloads in the first place. So close your email application and treat yourself to some downtime – chances are the quality of your work will improve while your stress levels drop.