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Opening Arguments

Email stress

Remember the days when we simply could not not answer the telephone? If we didn't pick that thing up, who knew what important news we might be missing? Email is getting to be that way:

Could the frequency with which you check your email play a role in causing stress? After all, three-quarters of workers report replying to email within an hour or less of receiving it, according to a recent survey of 503 employees at workplaces in the United States.

[. . .]

Checking email less often may reduce stress in part by cutting down on the need to switch between tasks. An unfortunate limitation of the human mind is that it cannot perform two demanding tasks simultaneously, so flipping back and forth between two different tasks saps cognitive resources. As a result, people can become less efficient in each of the tasks they need to accomplish. In addition to providing an unending source of new tasks for our to-do lists, email could also be making us less efficient at accomplishing those tasks.

I get so much email at work, I feel like I have to check it once an hour just so it doesn't back up so far. And my smart phone beeps at me when I get new mail, prompting me to check within seconds, never mind minutes or hours. To be sure, most of the email I get, both at work and on my personal phone, is junk and gets deletec without ever being opened. Still, there's a lot of wasted time in all that.

Phone calls now? If it's my home land line, I know it's probably nobody I want to talk to. If it's at work or on my smartphone, I can tell who is calling and whether to answer or let it go to voice mail. Technology giveth, and technology taketh away.