I’ve been reading a fairly new business book that I hope to finish up by the end of the week so I can give you my thoughts on it, but I knew I had to put it down long enough to capture my thoughts on a particular study the author discusses in a chapter about how the Internet often is a detriment to our productivity—I know, many of you are saying that couldn’t be true, but trust me it is.
When was the last time you were able to make it through an hour at your desk without either the e-mail icon on your desktop popping up with new e-mail alerts or you just obsessively checking on your own in the hopes that someone was getting back to you about something important? I would venture to say that eight times out of 10, when my e-mail icon begins to bounce up and down to alert me to a new e-mail, it is rarely the correspondence I was waiting for. Instead it might be an e-newsletter I subscribe to, a PR solicitation for a new book, or just something else that really didn’t require my immediate attention. Now, the question is, how much time did I waste?
After googling around to see what I could find on the Internet about a certain study I read about in the book, I found an article from the San Francisco Chronicle by Benjamin Pimentel from May 2005 titled: “E-mail Addles the Mind.” According to the article (which supported what I had already read in the book), Hewlett-Packard had scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London conduct research to determine if excessive use of daily technology (such as mobile phones and e-mail) is “more distracting and harmful to the IQ than smoking marijuana.”
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the clinical trials, but the study found that “an average worker’s functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails … more than double the four-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana [based on information from a 2002 a report on marijuana use from researchers from Carleton University].”
How many times have you checked your e-mail today?
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