While email has been around for decades, people are connected to it now more than ever before, new research finds.
According to a survey by Reachmail, even though checking email throughout the day can decrease productivity, nearly 84 percent of respondents do so frequently. In fact, more than half of respondents send over 10 emails each day.
It isn't just during the workday that work emails are distracting people. Another survey by Reachmail revealed that 75 percent of Americans check their email on days off and in the late evenings, and 61 percent check their inbox while on vacation.
While email is a great traditional form of communication, it shouldn't be all-consuming. Here's how you to break these habits and create a healthier, more efficient relationship with email.
Develop an email schedule
One of the latest trends in email management is known as "inbox-zero." The goal is to keep your inbox clean at all times, but those who practice this technique tend to check their email more than 25 times each day, according to the "Work Email Trends After Hours" survey.
If you want to be less distracted by email and more productive, ditch the concept and create a schedule to limit the amount of time spent reading and responding. This minimizes interruptions that derail your productivity on tasks and ensures that you are setting aside an adequate amount of time for them.
There is no rule for what type of schedule works best. If you aren't sure how often you need to be in your inbox, try checking it at three designated times each day for a week for a fixed amount of time. Then reduce the time the following week until you find the minimum amount of time needed to adequately respond.
Managing expectations and creating boundaries is an important part of creating an email schedule. Make sure clients or co-workers are aware of the new schedule by setting up an automatic response with your email host, or adding your email response times in your signature. This way, people who are accustomed to instant replies won't be surprised or offended if it takes you three hours to respond instead of three minutes.
Organize content in folders
Creating folders that hold timely emails or informative messages is a great way to get organized. If you work for a company that has several departments, it might be beneficial to organize your account by department with subfolders for time-sensitive material.
Unsubscribe from email chains
An integral part of the email organization process is in the magic of the unsubscribe link. It's easy to get inundated with offers from companies and vendors by signing up for their lead magnets, but if their subsequent correspondence is only adding to your email backlog, it might be time to unsubscribe. Be ruthless with this; marketers know they need to earn subscribers' attention, and your subscription is their privilege.
If creating an email schedule and implementing a strict organization policy doesn't make your inbox more manageable, it may be time to consider an email management tool.