If you’re like many of us, you probably have a half a dozen tabs open on your computer at any one time. Your email might be in one, socials in another, any work you have to do on a third, fourth, fifth, sixth.
It can be tempting to check as soon as a new notification pops up – seeing that number light up can ignite some excitement from within. Better yet, respond to an email quickly and we often get positive affirmation: “thanks for your quick response,” and the like.
Take a step back though, and remember the last time that you were chastised for not responding to an email within 20 minutes. Did that ever happen?
On average, a working professional checks their email roughly every 35 minutes. A 2018 survey by Adobe posits that the average person checks email for more than three hours every day. Among millennials, that jumps to over 6 hours – a quarter of your day.
The numbers are boggling, but the effects are also very real. When we’re waiting on the next speedy reply or action item or next step, we often aren’t focused on the work we need to be doing. Hitting refresh til the email you want to see comes through might feel rewarding, but it can be a distraction to deeper thinking.
So why not try checking email less? Set times throughout the day as designated blocks. We know that checking your inbox once a day isn’t realistic for many working people, so why not try curbing that every 35 minutes to every 2 hours? Start there and see how much more you can get done. Maybe extend to 3 hours or shift to twice a day. Consider not checking your email at all after a certain time in the evening – ideally when you leave the office or classes – and notice how alert you are when you respond the next day.
If you plan well, set expectations, and focus when you need to, email can become less of a burden and more of a resource. And even better, you may just notice that you have more focus and more time to spent on what’s really important.