Get Out of Your Inbox to Get More Done

Get Out of Your Inbox

How much time will you spend in your email inbox today?

Answer: Probably too much.

If you spend all of your day “doing” email, when are you going to have time to get to your most important tasks?

So, get out of your inbox and start getting your work done.

Too Much Email Time

If you are spending too much time on email, you are not alone.

Many people do. And it can be one of the biggest time wasters of your day.

The average employee spends almost a third of their workday processing email. That is 2.5–3 hours of email per day. Up to 15 hours a week. Or even 97 complete workdays a year!

If you are spending that much time on email, I can tell you what you’re not doing… your work.

Instead, you are shuffling low priority messages with co-workers or playing email Ping-Pong when you could be getting your work done.

“If you want to get more done, you need to get out of your inbox.” (Tweet Quote)

Ironically, too many companies reward this non-efficient behavior.

If you want to be more productive in your day, you need to stop playing with your email and concentrate on your most important tasks.

Here are a few tips to help you stay out of your inbox:

  • Minimize Checking Your Email – Only check your email 2–3 times a day. Don’t look at it repeatedly in between tasks, no matter how tempting that might be.
  • Stop Reading Your Email Everywhere – You don’t need to read your email everywhere. You don’t need to check it in the car… in the elevator… in the restaurant. In fact, turn off your email on your mobile device. Do you really need to check email in the bathroom?
  • Get Action Items OUT of Your Inbox – Your inbox is not a todo list. Get those tasks out of your email and onto your actual todo list. This will prevent you from looking in your email to see what isn’t done yet.
  • Use Other Communication Tools – Email is good for some things. However, there are more efficient communication tools out there that will keep your communication on track. My virtual assistant and I communicate mostly via Trello (for projects) and have recently started using Slack (for more immediate messages).
  • Turn Off Notifications – No one wants to hear those incessant new email pop-ups on your desktop or chimes on your phone. Turn them off. Your email will still be waiting for you when you return to check it. Better yet, close your email application when you are not using it.

Get Out of Your Inbox

Stop spending too much time in your inbox.

Many people spend long hours in the office when they could get their work done if they would stop playing with their email.

After all, email is not your job. Get your priorities done first, and then address your inbox.

Get out of your inbox and get more done today!

Question: How much time do you spend checking, reading, and responding to email each day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Slack seems quite interesting Craig! Just bookmarked it.

    • We are really enjoying Slack. It is a fresh take on communication and I like the “channel” structure of the app.

  • Great article Craig. I don’t think that most people realize how much time they actually spend in their email box. The fact that we can reclaim 97 hours a year (about a month of work) by getting control of our email is amazing. What a great way to add more balance and margin to our busy lives. Thanks for sharing!

    • I think it would be very interesting for more companies to track how much time their employees are spending “in their inbox.”

  • Great tips, Craig! Just wanted to let you know, Goboxi is launching beta soon and it’s productivity software built upon the principal that the inbox is killing our productivity! Our tool actively puts the messages you need to see it front of you (and the rest on the shelf), and actually automatically takes care of some messages for you!

    Check it out 🙂 http://www.goboxi.com

    • Sounds like a valuable approach.

      Best wishes and let me know how it goes! 🙂

  • Spending too much time reading and writing emails is definitely a common problem and now that pretty much everyone has some kind of smart mobile device, I think the problem is getting worse. One thing I heard from a Paul Boag talk, similar to what is mentioned above is the idea of having set times that you check your email rather than having it open all the time. As soon as you see a new mail come in or the ping sound, you can’t help but check who it’s from and before you know it you’ve spent 30mins reading and replying but keeping your email client closed solves this problem.

    A lot of people say they worry about missing a critical email if they close there client. The reality is a couple of hours probably isn’t going to make a difference but if you’re really worried there are lots of little mailbox addons that allow you to suppress your emails unless they contain certain keywords that you would then want your mailbox to alert you about.

    Definitely check your email less, turn off any sounds and notifications and don’t go looking around in your mailbox for things to reply to!

  • I’m a big believer in Inbox Zero and thankfully am not a slave to my inbox! I check it when I get up, at lunchtime and before I go to bed. I turn if off when I am working online and may check it on my phone if I am out, but I usually don’t respond unless it is super-important and just cannot wait until I am back at my desk. Nice tips.

    • Thanks sounds like a good routine to me! 🙂

  • Rob Schneider

    Don’t you think, though by avoiding time in email and replacing with things like Trello or Slack, the time still gets spent. Yes, you get out of the solitary email client into a more social/group communication media–but it has just as much or more pull on one’s time.

  • I am a marketing consultant and freelance writer right now. I have been thinking that when I’m checking my email I am focusing on what other people’s priorities are and not my own priorities. They want me to buy something, do something and I need to get my writing done and do a marketing plan. Working for myself if I don’t do my work I don’t get paid.

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