How many times a day do you check your email? McKinsey reports the average person spends 28% of their work ay checking and responding to email. That equates to 2.6 hours a day spent checking an average of 120 messages every single day. An Adobe survey says it’s a lot more than that—their recent study said we spend up to five hours a day checking our inboxes.
If that seems like a lot to you, you’re not wrong. How can you free yourself from the tyranny of email? This article will help you develop some new work habits that can help you set boundaries between your email inbox and your daily workflows.
Work/Life Balance and Your Email Inbox
A team at Harvard Business Review set out to cut the time they spent on email in half. They found that over-checking email wastes about 20-minutes each day. Why is this important? The studies show that the constant interruptions that most people consider “multi-tasking” is making us less productive. It can take you up to 23-minutes and 15-seconds to fully regain your concentration after an interruption. Every time you check email, it’s another thread for your brain to follow, and in some cases, it may disrupt your productivity in ways you don’t even notice anymore.
So, how can you change this habit into something more productive? Harvard Business Review suggests that your turn off email notifications and begin scheduling five to eight-minute increments where you check your inbox. Admittedly, this may not be possible for some people. Managers, for example, are required to engage constantly in a series of putting out fires across an organization, and the speed in which they respond to problems can affect the entire team.
But most workers can, and maybe should slow down their email interruptions to see if they can become more productive. According to the statistics:
- Most professionals have more than 200 emails in their inboxes.
- Most also receive another 120 new emails each day.
- We typically only respond to about 25% of what’s sitting in our inboxes.
With no plan to tackle the constant flow of information, there’s usually a backlog. This constant pressure of having too much to do and not enough time puts unnecessary pressure on most of us. So, in addition to checking email at certain times during the day, instigate a single-touch rule. This means you either archive or delete emails after reading them for the first time. If you’re using email as a kind of to do-list, could you set up a to-do folder instead of holding documents in your inbox. You can also file away emails that seem important to save, and try to do this each day on any old emails clogging your inbox until you get caught up. To speed up searches, use keywords or email addresses to speed up your response and eliminate the time it takes to search for relevant content.
While these are just a few tips to improve your inbox efficiencies, they’re good ways to start improving your day. The Custom Group of Companies works hard to make sure you have the kind of role where work/life balance can be achieved. Talk to our team if you’re seeking new opportunities.
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