Report: Email Overload Doesn't Exist

According to a recent study from nonprofit organization Pew Internet & American Life Project, Americans who use email at work said, overwhelmingly, that the technology is essential to their jobs, saving them time and helping them more easily communicate with other people. That news probably comes as no surprise to anyone who uses email. But the study also found that most email users receive very little spam or other unwanted mail; 50 percent claim to receive no spam at all.

So what am I doing wrong? If you can believe this study, I fall into a small group of so-called "power emailers" who claim to be overwhelmed by email. Let me give you a recent example. This morning, as always, my first task was to sort through my email, which these days involves a lot of manual deleting because I'm experimenting with antispam packages that work with IMAP email. Between midnight and 9:00 A.M. today, I received 84 email messages. Of those messages, 63 were spam. On an average weekday, I receive more than 100 legitimate email messages; I've never thought to count the total number of spam messages. But, yes, I feel overwhelmed by email--and spam--on a daily basis.

But in this study, even power emailers, who spend about 2 hours a day handling email, didn't complain much about spam. Only 11 percent of respondents said they were overwhelmed by email, although this group represented 20 percent of the total surveyed. The report says that most people receive only 15 email messages a day. One caveat, however, is that the study concerned work email addresses only. Workers could be more conscientious than home users.

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