Technology July 9, 2010 Last updated July 9th, 2010 2,612 Reads share

Is email bad for your health?

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Last week I was listening to the latest This Week in Tech podcast, in which one of the guests was speaking about the concept of Email Apnea – a temporary absence or suspension of breathing, or shallow breathing, while doing email.

I did some research into this and came across this article – Just Breathe: Building the case for Email Apnea.  In the article the author Linda Stone says

I observed others on computers and Blackberries: in their offices, their homes, at cafes — the vast majority of people held their breath, or breathed very shallowly, especially when responding to email. I watched people on cell phones, talking and walking, and noticed that most were mouth-breathing and hyperventilating. Consider also, that for many, posture while seated at a computer can contribute to restricted breathing.

She goes on to quote various pieces of research which suggests that restricted breathing coupled with bad posture, while reading email, is having a very negative impact on our health.

I am continually looking for hooks that will create buy in to Social Media, and knocking email down is one of my pet hobbies.  I think I might very well add this story to my growing collection.

So how can you reduce the impact of email on a day to day basis?

  1. Turn off any audio alerts or pop-ups on your email program that informs you when a new email is delivered into your inbox.  Even better, turn your email program off when you are not using it, and need to focus on something else.
  2. Check your email twice a day. I’d suggest around Noon and again at 4pm.  The start of the day should be dedicated to creating your daily plan, and completing your most important task.
  3. Utilise filters to organise your incoming email. If you receive a lot of emails from DLs, and it is not important to check these daily, then create subfolders, and populate them using filters.  You can then check these once a week, month, or quarter, whatever is approriate.
  4. Instead of sending a Word Document out for review by email, and consequently inviting lots of email replies, why don’t you do it differently?  Do you have access to a Wiki?  Why not create the document in there, and share the link with your colleagues.
  5. Next time you have a meeting to organise, instead of using email to draw up the agenda, and again inviting lots of traffic to your Inbox, try using a Wiki.
  6. Avoid answering one to one questions via email.  If possible push people to post their questions into a community based environment e.g. Forums or a Social Network.  Over time this will change people’s behaviours and make them think twice about sending you an email.  In addition it creates a Knowledge Base for other people who might have similar questions.

I hope you find some of these tips useful, and are able to put them into practice.

What hint/tips do you have for managing your email volume?  Please share in the comments.

The views expressed on this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Oracle.

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Frank Bradley

Frank Bradley

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