Business worker with a stressed expression working on a laptop

For many of us, checking emails has become a big part of daily activities. As consultants whose job involves a lot of communication with clients, our inboxes follow us everywhere we go. According to a McKinsey report, the average knowledge worker spends 28% of their time on managing emails. If you work 50 hours per week, you spend 14 hours in the inbox. Checking emails is taking up more and more of our time without our awareness. The question is: “Does it always make sense?”

Emails are a great source of distraction. As checking emails poses as valid work, inboxes are a valid place to be when people get bored of what they are doing. Also, notifications from emails keep interrupting you from your ongoing tasks, and it takes you at least a few minutes more to get back to the previous level of concentration after checking your inbox and sending a few replies. Imagine you receive 50 emails a day, not coming at the same time, if you keep checking on every single email you receive, you will lose several hours just on trying to focus back to your tasks. Merely the action of opening and deleting emails takes at least 3 seconds, and if you get 60 unwanted emails per day, that’s 3 minutes per day, which comes out to an hour per week. We are always short of time, but we are still wasting time on our inboxes.

Just by simply reducing the time on checking emails, you will have more time obviously, but you will also have more freedom due to less reliance on emails and living your real life, and you will be able to work more productively without any distraction.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your time with your emails:
• Turn off email alerts: you now can concentrate on your work without “ping-pong” every few minutes
• Set certain times to check emails during the day: about 3 times a day is a good starting point, but make sure you avoid checking emails right after you wake up because by doing that, you are letting emails to set the tone for your mood throughout the day.
• Respond only when necessary: the more you send, the more you get. Sometimes it’s much quicker to have a face to face conversation rather than talking via emails.
• Keep your emails short and succinct: this saves time for you and for the recipient
• Focus on your life: don’t check emails on your smartphones when you are meeting your friends or when you are having dinner with your family. Enjoy your personal time with your loved ones and put your inbox away.
• Set expectations with others: let clients know that you won’t check emails every minute so in case of an emergency, sending emails is not the quickest way to reach you.
• Unsubscribe from any website that’s sending you too many spams so that you don’t waste time on deleting their emails. You may be tempted to think you will need some special discounts or promotions from them in the future but that time will never come.

It’s time for you to let your emails work for you, not you to be its slave. Stop checking emails so often and you will find it easier to breathe.