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How Many Times A Day Should You Check Your Email?

How Many Times A Day Should You Check Your Email?

    In my last post, I talked about six of the most common work habits that sabotage your productivity. The first offender on my list was how frequently you check your email. As I was writing my last article, I found that there was a ton of information on that topic, and it was really deserving of its own dedicated article.

    When it comes to our work email, most of us see it as a ball and chain. We’ve constantly got to be checking it, or risk the wrath of the bosses and co-workers that are trying to communicate with us. If we don’t respond to an email within 5 minutes, we’re seen as lazy or unproductive.

    But according to some experts, checking your email too frequently is actually a major factor that can contribute to diminished productivity. If you are one of those “every time my phone dings I must check my email immediately” sort of people, read on to discover why you may have become your own worst enemy.

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    How Often is Normal?

    So just how often does the average person check their email in a given day? It’s hard to track down reliable statistics. According to one poll, about 40% of people surveyed that they thought they checked their email between 6 and 20 times per day. Of course, it’s hard to say how accurate a person is when gauging their own email habits.

    Another survey says that 56.4% of people only check their email between 0-5 times per day. However, that study is from 2009, and arguably quite dated.

    “Never Check Your Email in the Morning”

    Oprah’s favorite organizational expert is a woman called Julie Morgenstern, author of “Never Check Email in the Morning.” Guess what she advises?

    According to Morgenstern, checking your email first thing when you get into the office each morning is problematic because it can a false sense of accomplishment. You answer 40 emails, and you feel like you’ve done a lot of work, but in reality you probably still have piles of paperwork, meetings, and phone calls to make. Answering email is essential to doing your work, but it isn’t always something that is actively making money for you or your company.

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    Productivity expert Sid Savara also agrees with Morgenstern. “When it comes to email, ignorance is bliss.  That’s why if you’ve got something important you want to make progress on, I have these four words for you: Don’t check your email. As soon as you get up, work on something important for 30-45 minutes, and only then check it. If you can stand it, wait even longer.  Some days I don’t check email at all until after lunch…Any new information you get can cause you to get distracted. I can’t control everything, but I can control my own self made distractions.”

    The 24-Hour Method

    Other people argue that rather than check your emails starting later in the day, you should just check them once per day, in the morning. Among the members of this camp is productivity expert Elizabeth Grace Saunders. She generally clears out her inbox during the first 1-2 hours of her day, and formulates her game plan for the rest of the day after that. After that, she doesn’t generally look at her email again for the rest of the day, allowing her to focus completely on business development and client projects.

    This is harder, of course, if you are at the bottom of the food chain at your company. But if you are in upper management or you are self-employed, setting this routine can be a great way to boost your productivity.

    When in Doubt, Check the Chart

    Scott Scheper checks his email twice a day, and has created a handy flow chart for helping you to blow through all the unread messages in your inbox.

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    Every time you open a new email, ask yourself 3 basic questions:
    1. Is this relevant?
    2. Can I solve this?
    3. Will it take less than 2 minutes of my time to deal with this?

    By following his handy flow chart, you’ll develop a new way to bust through your inbox more efficiently.

    5 A Day

    And just in case you hadn’t had enough conflicting expert opinions, here’s one more. Rod Kurtz of Business Week argues that you ought to be checking your work email five times per day.

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    “Check your inbox only five times daily–first thing in the morning, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, and end of day. Or even less if you are capable. This works when you turn off the automatic send/receive function, allowing you up to two hours to focus on your work, rather than to be continually interrupted. It works when you group the sorting of your e-mail, making you more productive and efficient in dealing with it.”

    Conclusion

    There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Make sure that you schedule your email time in such a way that you avoid confusing the two. If you approach your email with the correct attitude, you can boost your productivity by leaps and bounds.

    In the words of Scott Scheper, “A day filled with shooting the breeze with employees, answering questions, staring at emails, checking social networks and chatting with colleagues won’t make you rich. It’ll make you busy.”

    What’s your daily email routine? Do you plan to try any of these tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Published on April 25, 2019

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

    Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

    Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

    Creativity.

    What is Creativity?

    When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

    Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

    Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

    From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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    For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

    Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

    That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

    Limitations are Actually Opportunities

    The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

    Let me illustrate with an example.

    On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

    However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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    At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

    It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

    This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

    I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

    To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

    My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

    But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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    “But daddy, is it important?”

    “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

    Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

    And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

    Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

    I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

    I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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    Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

    This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

    Creativity is One Key to Success

    When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

    Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

    Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

    So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

    Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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