I’m away on holiday this week – but I haven’t left an automatic email message telling people that. It’s not because those sort of emails are among those that people find the most annoying, but because I wouldn’t know how to set such a message if I wanted to.

I don’t suppose that even if I had left such a message, people would find it irritating. It’s not as if I’d be telling them I’m off to the Maldives or the West Indies. ‘Helen is away in Whitby’ wouldn’t ruffle too many feathers, I’m sure.

Thinly-veiled bragging about great holidays is among the top ten emails most likley to make workers’ blood boil, a survey found. Personally I’m far more cheesed off by people forgetting to resume normal service after a holiday. ‘Samantha Turner is on holiday and will be back on June 30’, an email will say in reply to one you sent on July 16. It comes as no surprise to find that this is the most annoying email sin.

Other annoying electronic messages include trying too hard to be funny, rudeness and being too familiar.

I don’t like over-familiarity. I’ve received messages from people who, from their upbeat ‘Hi Helen! How’s it going?’ I’ve assumed to be close friends.

I’m also sick of being plagued by emails from insurance companies I haven’t even heard of but who seem to think I have a policy with them, and ‘would you like to update it?’ Random emails from supposed financial institutions appear with alarming regularity. The other day I had one asking for £29.50 I owed for an unnamed product I’d apparently bought from an unnamed company. These sorts of e-mails are hugely time-consuming as you feel the need to check them out in case there’s some truth in it.

Maybe not annoying in the conventional way, but massively irritating in their ability to disrupt your working day, are those emails that, try as you might, you can’t ignore. They pop up with alarming regularity. I got two today: ‘Indonesian baby on 40 cigarettes a day’ arrived first, then, immediately after, ‘Anaconda vomits entire cow in Brazil’.

Many of these involve watching short films – I wouldn’t recommend the latter unless you’ve had lunch – and while being repulsive, are also compulsive.

‘Cat learns boxing on TV’ is another one that stopped me in my tracks.

While there is no doubt that it has speeded up a lot of processes, email wastes as much time as it frees up. And that’s super-annoying.