Three really is the magic number, especially if you want to reduce stress. According to a new study, office workers who check their email more than three times a day are significantly more stressed than those who can control how often they check their inbox. The University of British Columbia asked 124 participants "to restrict their inbox-checking to just three times a day for a one-week period. Once that week was over, study participants were allowed to check their email as much as they liked." The results? When asked about their stress levels, "people reported feeling less stressed during the time when they checked their email inboxes only three times a day."
The results have a lot to do with "realignment of attention." according to researchers. Repeatedly taking your focus off the task at hand to check that annoying dinging sound every time instead of setting aside a specific chunk of time leads to more frazzled thinking and increased stress. But we live in a world of instant everything, including email. Researcher Kostadin Kushlev noted that "most participants in our study found it quite difficult to check their email only a few times a day. People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress."
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