Tuesday, April 26, 2005

E-mailing and lower I.Q.

I found an interesting little piece in one of the local Spanish language newspapers. El Dia (Houston) reports on a study in the United Kingdom commissioned by Hewlett Packard. According to the report, obsessive use of e-mail can lower I.Q by up ten points. The report also states that adult males are particularly susceptible and that effects are the equivalent of staying up all night (getting no sleep). Those who conducted the study explain that workers lose concentration at work due to being constantly distracted by e-mail and mobile devices. So, in addition to loss of I.Q., productivity loss is another issue. This is not really new; there are other articles out there discussing loss of productivity due to e-mail and web surfing by employees. Heck, I am sure someone would say I am being less productive because I am taking time to discuss this while I am at my desk. But I will argue that the extra time I do spend at work and the various tasks I do more than compensate for whatever moment I spend writing and reflecting on what I read or come across while keeping myself informed. The story appeared in the April 26 issue of the newspaper. The story appeared earlier in The Guardian for April 22, which adds that the greater effect occurs with people who are compulsive about answering e-mail, namely people who do not prioritize and manage their e-mail effectively. If nothing else. it is something to think about. In my line of work, and I am sure this is true for a lot of librarians, much of the communication at work is done through e-mail, especially if like me you use tools like Outlook. Little messages back and forth can be time consuming. In my case, I try to deal with them and get them out of the way, or ignore them for a while until I can get to them. I personally see no sense in rushing to deal with e-mail, unless it is some kind of emergency, which rarely if ever it is. Therefore, I get to them when I get to them. And to keep the IQ healthy (and the rest of my mind), I do other things like reading, writing, and just enjoying life as it comes.

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