Do you spend hours puzzling over the perfect wording of a lengthy email? Or shoot off a quick five-word reply? Does it take you days to respond? Or just a few minutes?
A new study by Yahoo Labs and the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute can tell you how common your email habits are. The researchers analyzed millions of emails between Yahoo users, recording email length, the amount of time it took users to respond, and how factors like time of day affected emailing.
They found that 90 percent of emailers responded within the same day—and the most likely response time was just two minutes. If you’re wondering how anyone manages to craft an email response in that amount of time, the answer is that the majority of emails are also incredibly short: the most common email length is just five words.
The study also found that email length and response time are affected by time of day and week. The Atlantic observes that, “Emailing also seems to follow its own sort of circadian rhythm, waxing and waning pretty much in time with the standard work-week. Weekday emails get longer and faster responses than those received on the weekend, and emails sent at night take longer to get responses than those sent during the day.” The study further observed that as email load increases, people respond to fewer emails: “From about 25 percent of emails received in a day at low load to less than 5 percent of emails at high load (about 100 emails a day).”
If you don’t recognize your own email habits in these statistics, the study also found that email length and response time vary significantly by age. In general, teenagers write the shortest messages, and respond the fastest: on average, it takes them only 13 minutes. People 51 and over, by contrast, take an average of 47 minutes.
[h/t: The Atlantic]