Does anyone else remember those days when there was no email? I can barely remember them. Email is such a big part of our lives that even my father, who hates everything else about computers, uses email to keep in touch with his brother. For those of us who work online, run our own business, have work contacts in our email, keep up with friends and family through email, or keep up with our favorite websites and people through email, it can be something that becomes hard to ignore. That means it can be a huge issue when it comes to productivity for almost everyone.
The Biggest Problems With Email
First, you get a lot of spam. I still don’t understand how all these people get your email. And it’s beyond me why they figure it’s okay to sucker you into their scams and get your PayPal information or credit card information. But, they do it. And they do it often. And, when you get a notification for a new email, it’s such a waste of time to go there and find out it’s spam. Sometimes you even have to go to PayPal just to make sure that it is a scam – because scammers are getting that good, and that’s a waste of time too.
Second, it’s easy to sign up for emails and then forget about them. But, soon you can easily be getting 20-50 emails a day from websites and people you can’t even remember signing up to.
Third, people can send a lot of emails! A friend of mine signed up to one place and got around 5 emails a day just from that place. She loved the site, but she couldn’t handle the constant notifications for their emails. It was wasting her time and not worth the effort.
Lastly, a lot of emails drag your attention away from what you are doing and truly ruin your productivity. For instance, you may get an email about a sale going on at your favorite store, so you open it, then spend about half an hour browsing their products. Then you remember that another store may be having a sale too, so you go and check them out. And before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour or more because of one email.
How Can You Stop Checking Your Email So Much?
You need to take action and get serious about how badly checking email is affecting your productivity.
Do you really want to spend the majority of your time checking emails and getting lost in email trails? Or do you want to spend most of your time being productive and focused on things that need to be focused on?
Once you get clear on how many minutes or hours a day you are wasting on email, and how badly you want them back, you will want to take one or more of the following steps to stop checking emails so often.
1. Turn Off Your Email Notifications
The less you hear or see an email notification, the less you will check your email. Don’t worry, you’re not going to miss something so important that you will die. Emails have information that can usually wait until later to read.
Turn off audible notifications, don’t put your email icon on your phone’s first screen, and keep your email closed until you are ready to check it.
2. Stay In Contact With People Through Less Distracting Ways During Your Day
If you need to keep in touch with people as part of your business, then find a better way to do so. Your email is full of junk and distractions and there are many better ways to keep in touch during the workday.
For instance, Gail Gardner from Growmap had the following to say about email and getting it out of the way to be more productive.
The major productivity killer in my life was email, so I stopped looking at it. The volume of email I receive is outrageous, even after I unsubscribed from almost every list I was on. It is a huge time suck. Now I only look at it maybe once a day.
All of my important clients and collaborators use at least one of these: Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter.
We primarily use Skype to interact because it is real-time and immediate. Only someone connected to me there can interrupt whatever else I’m doing. And if I need to stay focused, I can set it to “Do Not Disturb” and look at messages periodically when I need a break.
If someone doesn’t respond on Skype, I can message them on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. I encouraged all my collaborators and clients to use Skype.
The few who tend to not answer there like Facebook or LinkedIn chat. If they need a fast response about something they sent as email, they know they need to message me to go look for their email. Doing this gives SpamPhobia the time it needs to filter out the spam and lists so that my inbox stays clean.
Unfortunately, after I read this from Gail, I went to check out SpamPhobia and it is being shut down later this month – April of 2018.
However, her idea about keeping in contact through Skype is a great idea! You can’t waste time there. You can’t look at pictures or read posts about what stupid people are doing in the world today. You can only stay in contact with your contacts, which is what you want to do when you are working and need to hash things out with people or have quick meetings.
3. Add Checking Email To A Specific Part Of Your Daily Routine
Checking your email constantly becomes a habit. So, if you want to stop doing that, create a new habit of only checking your email once or twice a day.
Maybe you want to add checking your email to the end of your morning routine because it contains the information you need for your day. This is often true for anyone who works online.
Or, if your email is more about staying in touch with people and brands, maybe you can save checking your email as a reward for being productive and getting all those things done that you need to do.
Leaving it until the end of the day would be a good thing to try for at least a week. Why? It will prove to you that no matter what, you will come through it okay if you don’t check your email first thing in the morning.
Whatever you do, it benefits you to schedule in your email time once or twice a day, and then leave it alone until those times.
4. Create A List Where You Can Write Down Nagging Thoughts Concerning Your Emails
Often we check our email because of a thought we have, such as, “I wonder if that business replied to me yet?” That thought eats away at us until we finally stop what we are doing and check our email. Usually, the email is not there so we get the thought again later in the day and then check our email again.
To rectify this, I highly recommend you try writing your thoughts down on a list that’s titled ‘Need To Do’ or something similar. When you write down, ‘Check to see if [insert business] responded to my complaint’ there is something that happens in your mind where you feel like you have it covered and you don’t need to do it now.
Bottom line: When you know that you have it written down, won’t forget about it, and will get to it when you can, it’s much easier to avoid the temptation of doing it now.
5. Create An Autoresponder If You Need To Respond To Emails Often
I get many emails from clients and prospective clients. Knowing that anyone who sent an email would be waiting for a response from me was a huge reason I checked my email too much throughout the day. And then I found the solution: An autoresponder.
If you are worried that people will feel ignored if they sent a message and you haven’t responded quickly enough, then create an autoresponder. Tell people that you will get back to them within 12/24/48 hours, and then let that response take care of their worries and yours.