The use of email by employees at the Danwood Group was studied and it was found that the interrupt effect from emails is more than generally believed. Employees allowed themselves to be interrupted almost as frequently as telephone calls and the common reaction to the arrival of an email is to react almost as quickly as they would respond to telephone calls. This means the interrupt effect is comparable with that of a telephone call. The recovery time from an email interruption was found to be significantly less than the published recovery time for telephone calls. It is to be concluded, therefore, that while Email is still less disruptive than the telephone, the way the majority of users handle their incoming email has been shown to give far more interruption than expected.
By analysing the data captured the authors have been able to create recommendations for a set of guidelines for email usage within the workplace that will increase employee efficiency by reducing the prominence of interruptions, restricting the use of email-to-all messages, setting-up the email application to display three lines of the email and to check for email less frequently. It is recommended that training should be given to staff on how to use email more effectively to increase employee productivity.
Anyway, I disable my notifications after reading something somewhere about how it helped productivity - and it really has helped mine. I still have a bad habit of unhiding my Start Menu to see if there's a new mail icon in the tray, but considering that's something I have to manually do, it's not an interruption that breaks up my thought process when I'm trying to code or in the middle of writing a document.