How many times have you checked your email today? If you’re like more than a third of the email-using population, you constantly check it throughout the day.
That was a finding from a recent study by BlueHornet. The email marketing company wanted to know how many times a day the average consumer checked their inbox. It turns out that most people check their email a lot. In fact, almost 60 percent of survey participants check their email a minimum of 4 times a day.
While the survey results clearly showed email distraction is a problem facing the majority of people, it also shows that there is a segment of the population that has learned how to keep their bad email habits under control. As overuse of email can seriously impede our productivity at work, let’s take a page from the lesson books of those who aren’t tied to their email to break free of unproductive email habits.
Don’t Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning
There are a few reasons to forgo email early in the morning. For one, it’s not the best use of your time. Economic behaviorist Dan Ariely has found that the morning hours between 9am-12pm are when people are most productive. He calls the first few hours after fully waking the “golden hours”. This is when your brain is ready to handle complex cognitive tasks – which doesn’t include email.
Another reason to wait a few hours before checking your email is that it will cut down on the need to open your email. The majority of emails are sent between the hours of 6am and 12pm. If you wait to check your email until noon you’ll see the bulk of your emails for the day in one fell swoop.
Create an Email Autoresponder That Sets You Up for Success
When productivity coach Tim Ferris set out to reduce his email consumption, he did one thing that made a huge difference. He created an autoresponder that let people know he only checks his email once a day, and if an immediate response is needed, the person can call instead. This sets expectations and gives Tim the leverage to stick to checking his email just one time a day.
Silence Emails on Your Cell Phone
One of the best things about traveling by air is that it’s an email-free zone. There’s a freeing feeling when you know you can’t check it. It’s the chains that bind you to your email breaking free. Whenever you need to take a break from email “airplane mode” on your phone or tablet is your best friend. An even better option is to turn email notifications off in your settings so you aren’t alerted each time an email comes in.
Disable Email Apps
BlueHornet found that one big reason for the rise in checking email is mobile technology. Now that our email can be accessed on our smart phones it’s with us all the time. Basically, it’s way too easy to check your email from anywhere.
If checking email on the go has become a bad habit you may want to consider removing your email apps. It may sound extreme, but removing the convenience factor is a surefire way to decrease the amount of time you spend checking email.
Keep Email Off Your Browser
If your email is open on your browser, then you have a constant reminder that’s making it harder to ignore. It also makes checking your email as easy as clicking a tab, which increases the likelihood that you’ll take a peek. When email is the first thing you see when you turn on your computer, it’s also more difficult to keep email out of your golden hours.
Disconnect Your Email From Your To-Do List
Too many people use their email to remind them of things that need to be done. All that does is add another to-do to your list – constantly checking your email. A purposely-built task app will ultimately be more efficient, useful and cut down on the time dedicated to email.
Keep Your Documents Separate From Your Email
Your email can be a convenient spot to store documents, but it can also lead to distraction if you have to open your inbox. Storing your documents online is a great idea that prevents information from being permanently lost, however, there are better options than email. Google documents and Dropbox are two excellent options for storing documents and sharing them with others.