Is Email Too Fast for Our Own Good?
The virtually instantaneous nature of email can be both a blessing and a curse. Being able to quickly and inexpensively share information with anyone at any time is a fabulous tool, but it also can lead to problems.
“Many people have a tendency to copy too many people on an email message just because it is possible,” says certified workplace productivity coach Marsha Egan of InboxDetox.com (a division of The Egan Group, Inc.). “Unfortunately, many of the folks receiving those messages really didn't need to receive them, but have to handle them anyway. What this does is it creates a burden of information overload to many workers who understandingly cannot differentiate between what's important and what isn't until the message is opened.”
Another problem with the “any time, any place” nature of email is that people feel like they always must be ready to tackle issues that arise. This constant connectivity can interrupt personal time and make it hard to mentally relax and leave work at the office. It also, however, can hurt productivity during the business day.
“Once the culture accepts that urgent emails are a way of doing business, workers feel compelled to have their inboxes open, dinging, and flashing all day long, just in case an urgent message may show up,” Egan notes. “The cost of this is huge -- interruptions take on average four minutes to recover from. With the average worker receiving anywhere from 80 to 140 messages daily, hours can be lost without people realizing where they go.”
A final danger of the quickness of email is that the receiver often feels compelled to respond immediately. Replies may be sent hastily without allowing time to think things through or let emotions cool off.
Designating a time to handle messages helps with many potential pitfalls. Gaining power over email instead of letting it be in control not only can improve your day, it sends a message (no pun intended) to others that we all need to think before hitting “send.”