It’s hard not to live by your email during the workday, isn’t it? The average working professional spends about 28% of their time answering and checking email. Checking email throughout the day is a habit that many people have, but it’s not always productive.
In fact, for many working professionals, email can be a distraction from the kind of work that should actually be doing. Checking email in moderation instead of all the time can help you be more productive. Here are two strategies you could consider when trying to get a handle on your email inbox.
Strategy 1: Check Your Email Five Times Daily
Check email five times each day: once in the early morning when you’re just starting your day, again in the mid-morning, after lunch, in the mid-afternoon, and one last time at the end of the day. Being consistent about when you set email sets the expectation for your coworkers that you’re reachable throughout the day, but not necessarily instantaneously.
Strategy 2: Check Your Email Every 45 Minutes
Some experts recommend checking your email every 45 minutes as your attention begins to wane on whatever task you’re working on. This way, email is less of a distraction and more of a break from the other tasks that you’re working on.
Remember, the More Emails You Send… The More You Receive
Email can suck up a lot of time if you’re not careful. Checking and responding to email every 45 minutes generates more email. As you respond to questions and threads, the recipients of your emails will send their replies. If you’re like many professionals, email is only a byproduct of your normal job – it’s not what you were hired to do. If you spend too much time on email, you’ll spend less time on more important work.
To avoid overloading yourself with email communication throughout the day, take your time when responding to email when possible. You might check email five times per day to see if there are any emergencies, but hold off on responses or group your action items. Respond to email three times per day, to control the pace of the emails you receive. This frees up more time for you to do the work you were hired to do. On a side note, taking your time with responses also helps you avoid saying something you might regret, if you’re in a difficult discussion with a coworker. There are many advantages to taking your time!
About the Author: Kathryn Elwell grew up in the Midwest. She has experience in management and human resources, and has been writing on these topics and more for 12 years.