Are you busy these days? So busy, in fact, that sometimes you don’t know what to do next? Did you ever stop to consider that you’re making yourself too busy because you’ve unknowingly allowed too many time wasters to creep into your workdays?
Let’s start with email, something most of appreciate for its convenience and, perhaps, take for granted — that is until we stop to consider just how much time (in many cases unproductive time) we’re devoting to sending and receiving email.
How much time?
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reports that 205 billion emails were sent and received per day in 2015, and that individual users sent and received 122 business emails per day on average. That translated into 3.2 hours a day spent checking work emails.
Do these numbers seem excessive to you? They should. Most of us waste an incredible amount of time each workweek because of our inefficient email habits.
In fact, business owners responding to a recent NFIB survey listed email as their biggest time waster — bigger than administrative tasks and interpersonal conflicts, their next two biggest acknowledged time wasters. NFIB reported that business owners spent 10 percent more time dealing with email and using the web than they did interacting with customers. And yet, 45 percent of the same folks responding to the survey said they want to work with “fewer distractions.” Uhmm, there seems to be a disconnect here.
In light of the above NFIB findings, the question becomes: why do we keep wasting time sending and receiving emails? Why indeed? Isn’t it time to tame the email time-suck monster?
Implement these six suggestions from the NFIB to control email overload:
- Schedule Time: Set aside one or two times each day when you will deal with new messages.
- Prioritize: Separate emails into key groups such as A. Urgent/Daily, for messages you must answer right away; B. Weekly, for messages you can answer at a later date after some thought, and C. Never, just trash them.
- Unsubscribe: Don’t waste your time deleting emails that you don’t want anymore. Unsubscribe and limit your social media notifications via email.
- Create Folders: Move emails to folders where you an access them quickly. Your inbox is for incoming mail only.
- Make Rules: Set up rules for incoming mail to filter out less important messages.
- Give Alerts the Boot: Get rid of email alerts on your phone. They’re just a distraction.