According to a Guardian article, users who checked their e-mail frequently had an “average IQ loss [of] 10 points, more than double the four point mean fall found in studies of cannabis users.”
When I need to concentrate and focus on something the best way is for me to close my mail client to avoid distractions. I think the reason is that our minds don’t really want to work, so when we’re thinking through something difficult and get stuck, it wants to take a break. The process of going back and forth makes it hard to be productive.
“The most damage was done, according to the survey, by the almost complete lack of discipline in handling emails. Dr Wilson and his colleagues found a compulsion to reply to each new message, leading to constant changes of direction which inevitably tired and slowed down the brain.”
That may explain why people feel like they have adult ADD, when in reality they’re just distracting themselves with e-mail.