Email overload in academia

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Title: Email overload in academia
Author: Hole, Jeffrey D.
Abstract: The emergence of email as a viable and inexpensive communication channel has led to its increased presence in the daily lives of professionals. Email has become a ubiquitous tool in a faster paced and more globally connected world. Besides simple notes, professionals now use email to communicate tasks, important personal and organizational announcements, meeting requests, and share documents. As the importance of email has grown, professionals have made the email client a work nerve center. The vast increase in the volume of email and the use of the email client as a multifunctional tool now threatens the productivity gains it once created. Business professionals suffer from email overload which is accompanied by stress and organizational breakdowns. As a result, many organizations have created email free holidays and professionals have declared email bankruptcy. In this thesis the research on email overload is reviewed, analyzed, and extended through a study of email overload in academia. Using surveys and interviews of faculty at a large university, the researcher found that email overload was present in academia. The study also identified participants’ behaviors in performing email triage, managing email and email overload, and the effects of email overload. The researcher was also able to discover characteristics of cyclical email volumes amongst faculty which may have a direct impact on determining methods of email organization and the occurrence of email overload. Additionally, the study identified that faculty have extended their email client ever further by using it as a task and project manager, information manager, workload barometer, and headline aggregator.
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Date: 2008

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