New York University professor Adam Alter, author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” explains how checking your work email can change your level of productivity. Following is a transcript of the video.
How long do you think it takes before you check the average email that comes in when you’re at work? Most people when asked that question say a number like maybe five minutes, maybe 10 minutes. The answer based on data is six seconds.
So, on average, we check our emails six seconds after they arrive, which is a staggering number. Now it’s staggering because when you check your email it takes about 25 minutes on average for you to get back into the zone of maximum productivity. Which means that if you were writing something or you were thinking about something, you were using a creative part of your brain to come up with some great idea. If you check an email it’s going to take you 25 minutes to get back into that state of productivity you were in before you checked your email.
So the obvious solution there is that there should be certain times in the day when you check email and there should be large periods of the day where your email program, if at all possible, is closed.
It’s like going to sleep and being disturbed every few seconds. You never really get back into that deep sleep and you end up not being rested and the same thing happens at work over time. If you keep checking your email through the day, people who are very productive know this, you will never get anything done.