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Stressed? Switch off your email

020707 Silver Surfer 001 John Boje, 70, working on his laptop. He uses the internet on a regular basis. The first thing he does in the morning is checking his e-mail. Picture Ilvy Njiokiktjien

020707 Silver Surfer 001 John Boje, 70, working on his laptop. He uses the internet on a regular basis. The first thing he does in the morning is checking his e-mail. Picture Ilvy Njiokiktjien

Published Jan 4, 2016

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If you receive an email every hour that God sends, it might be time to ignore your inbox – at least for a short while.

That is the recommendation of psychologists who say that emails are a huge source of stress for workers because of the constant influx of messages and pressure to respond to them.

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In fact, they said email was so pernicious that it could end up affecting performance at work and happiness at home.

They urged employees to close down their email application on their computer or smartphone for certain periods of the day.

Making what might seem a rather obvious suggestion – but one that would be unthinkable to workaholics – researchers 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.’

The team at the London-based Future Work Centre, which conducts psychological research on workplaces, surveyed almost 2,000 workers in the UK across a range of industries and occupations 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 so-called push feature that automatically updates emails on devices as soon as they arrive and an employee’s perceived email pressure. Higher email stress was associated with more examples of work having a negative effect on home life, and home life having a negative impact on performance at work.

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Lead author Dr Richard MacKinnon said: ‘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. But 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 wellbeing.’

Email pressure was highest among younger people and steadily decreased with age, according to the findings.

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© Daily Mail

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