How to Reclaim 2 Hours Per Day By Cleaning Up Your Inbox
Is it possible to carve 2 hours or more out of your work day everyday?
I believe so. It happens the instant you stop treating every activity as necessary and develop a discerning discipline of priorities. Where can you apply just a little bit more discipline and get a lot more time in return? Email is an easy target.
How much time do you spend checking email?
If you’re like the average person, the answer is at least 2.5 hours according to recent PEW Internet Research study. And, that does not count the time spent distracted after clicking a link originating from an email either. Attacking spam (illegitimate and unsolicited email) is actually a small part of the battle. Legitimate email is the real time suck and the new battlefront for your time,effort, energy and attention. Think about notifications from LinkedIn,Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Quora, Meetup, etc.
What if you could get that time back with some simple automation and a few tools to support focused habits? You can.
But first, a few more scary statistics to throw out there:
- The average person sifts through 143 message per day, over 80% of which are deleted in 3.2 seconds, each. It amounts to over 8 minutes of delete time. That’s assuming that you only read the subject line and don’t open a single message.
- The average person only receives 12 emails per day that require substantial work.
- 64% of employees waste at least 1 hour per day at work. 23% Spend 2 hours or more doing something other than work. Most, spend that time on social networks.
- 38% of mobile time is spent checking email. Even more time is spent on social media. Email is a very effective tool to remind us to login and get distracted from our actual work.
How do you get that time back? It starts with small changes to your email habits.
1. Focus on the essential and important. These are the few actionable items and fires that you actually need to address and put out. It’s a remarkably smaller pile than you think.
2. Ignore everything else. That includes but is not limited to: email notifications from Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetup, funny forwards from colleagues, shopping deals from Amazon, Groupon, LivingSocial and where ever else you shop.
3. Explore the everything else on intentionally. Designate time to explore or catch up on various social channels and don’t let them disrupt your day.
4. Check email 2x a day and enforce this policy with your contacts by mentioning how often you check email in your email signature. This is mentioned in many blog posts and more famously in The 4-Hour Workweek, yet, it is rarely practiced!
If you’re a neurotic web addict, like my former self, cultivating this discipline will be difficult. Here’s how you can make it easier for yourself.
1. Gmail users can use the Heroik Filter Pack to:
- Automatically organize email as they come into Gmail.
- Make it easy to focus on the important & essential messages
- Filter out the noise by filing notifications from newsletters, deal sites & social networks into designated folders,automatically!
- Create/Have Separate emails by attachment type: office files, pdfs, music, & images.
Either way you should use Gmail/Google Apps and take full advantage of the filters. Find the Heroik Filter Pack here.
2. Take a real life assessment- Assess how much time you are wasting on the web by recording how much time you spend on various websites using RescueTime, a free tool that tracks how much time you spend on various websites. Once the results are in, it will likely light a fire under your ass to start working towards better self management practices.
3. Don’t perpetuate ongoing email threads. Bring threads to closure by ending your last message with “No need to comment or respond” (NNTCOR).
Important Tip: I recommend a more personal message so that it doesn’t make it seem like you’re doing one-way broadcast email. Consider a lead-in to NNTCOR wby acknowledging your consideration of the recipient’s busy schedule “I know you’re busy person, like myself, no need to comment or respond. Enjoy your day! ” <—End it with a little finality and you’ll pull this off without looking like a jerk.