Your Body on E-Mail

Organic Style | October 2005

If you’re constantly distracted by a ringing phone and incoming e-mails, beware: The interruptions may cause a temporary 10-point drop in your IQ, according to a study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard and completed at the University of London. That’s enough to lower your concentration and problem-solving skills and more than twice the IQ loss observed in heavy marijuana smokers. Such interruptions make us feel out of control, says Daniel Kegan, PhD, an organizational psychologist in Chicago. Don’t be a slave to disruption – think of technology as putting information at your disposal and try these tips to end your in-box addiction.

· Start the day off right. Silence the ringer on your phone and the “you’ve got mail” alert for up to two hours each morning. This lets you set your own priorities for the day, says Barry Izsak, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers.  

· Meet face-to-face. A quick conversation with a coworker can be more efficient and leaves less room for misunderstanding than e-mail.

·  Make the most of your e-mail program. Save time by using search functions and by automatically filing or color-coding messages so you can see at a glance which ones require a response.