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PSYCHOLOGICAL: Effects of email overload
- Stress - the biggest killer

Courtesy: Trainers forum

Dear Friends / Co professionals, Would like to share with you what I read recently, and is associated with every professional's life today.

Effects of email overload

Andrew Pratt

We may define effects as the assessable consequences, for individuals and organizations, of email overload. Although this definition is certainly more straightforward than the definition offered earlier for causes, it should be noted that the effects of email overload are of a “multi-level” nature. By this I mean that the direct effects of email overload affect each other, and can also spawn other effects of their own. For individuals, these effects include increased stress, increased time spent checking email (both inside and outside the office), longer working hours, and decreased productivity. For organizations, they include loss in revenue and decreased productivity.

Main Effect #1: Stress. Email overload directly affects individuals’ stress levels, as well as the amount of the time they spend managing their email. The results of a quick Google search for “email overload stress” should be enough to convince any naysayers that email overload is a recognized worldwide as a cause of stress. The search yields approximately 176,000 results, displaying evidence of countless websites and books dedicated to alleviating email overload-induced stress—even, a site that totes itself as a provider of “practical advice and solutions for every day life” and garners more than 20 million visitors each month, has an entry on the subject (Duncan). Results of a 2003 study conducted by the Australian Psychological Society showed that 69% of senior company managers find the daily task of responding to emails either mildly or moderately stressful. Two percent even classified it as “extremely stressful” (Australasian Business). In her findings, Cavanagh notes that constant stress from email overload has led to what participants in her study describe as mental fatigue (2). In fact, the “mental fatigue of overload and wrestling with messages” was named the number one dislike about workplace email in the study (11). In addition to fatigue, email overload stress may very well be capable of causing adverse health effects, as evidenced in a 2001 survey of two hundred United Kingdom managers and directors from the legal, marketing and financial service sectors, where 43% of participants claimed that they had actually fallen ill as a result of stress from information overload.

To conclude: lets not have an information overload, and keep things to the point of what is needed. Lets use knowledge management effectively. Right knowledge, at the right time, in the right place for the right set of people.


Amit Joshi

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