Chances are, email is an integral part of doing your job. In fact, you probably check your email not only at the office, but on your way to work and after hours as well. But while spending some time on email is unavoidable, workers may be taking things to too much of an extreme.
U.S. employees spend a whopping 209 minutes a day on work emails, on average, as per a new survey by Adobe. That's over three hours a day, which is a lot for those who typically spend eight to nine hours a day on the clock.
If you're spending so much time on email that you're struggling to get the rest of your job done, you're in good company. And here are a few things you can do about it.
1. Designate specific windows to check email during the day
The problem with email is that it's constant. But if you pause what you're doing every time a message lands in your inbox, your productivity and concentration are likely to suffer, which could hurt your performance on a whole. The solution? Don't keep checking your email all day. Rather, block off specific windows of time on your calendar to comb through your inbox and respond to messages. You might, for example, schedule 30 minutes early in the morning, another 30 minutes mid-day, and then an additional chunk of time before you're set to depart the office.
Another thing -- limit the extent to which you allow yourself to check work-related email at home. Doing so will help you maintain a better work-life balance.
2. Filter emails appropriately
Email filters are a wonderful thing -- they can sort your messages so that you're able to focus on those that are actually important and ignore those that are not. If you're spending a lot of time on emails, the right set of filters could make your inbox more manageable. Play around with your options, or ask your resident IT person for help if needed.
3. Ditch long emails and pick up the phone
It's not unheard of to start typing an email, thinking it'll be relatively short, only to find yourself still going 472 words later. Sometimes, you may have no choice but to send long emails -- for example, if you need to communicate a lot of information to a diverse group of people. But if you're composing a reply to a single colleague or manager, and you know it'll be many paragraphs long from the get-go, you may be better off just picking up the phone and conveying that message live. Chances are, your long email will result in -- wait for it -- a long response from your recipient, thereby kick-starting a time-consuming cycle. Or, to put it another way, a five-minute phone call could save you 30 minutes of typing.
Though email is a valuable communication tool, it can also be a huge time-waster. Pay attention to the amount of time you're spending on work emails, and if it's excessive, take steps to try to cut back so you can focus on more important things.