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It’s hard to imagine there was a time when people functioned at work without email. This form of communication has become so intertwined in our lives that we don’t even think about it anymore. Most of us are constantly checking email, whether on the computer at our desks or using our smartphones on-the-go.

In total, the average employee spends 28% of the workweek checking email, according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute. This means if your habits align with the standard worker, you’re devoting more than one quarter of your week to email. It’s time to make a change.

4 Tips to Spend Less Time in Your Inbox

Tired of spending a significant portion of your day reading and responding to emails? Use these four tips to cut down on your email time:

Turn Off Email Notifications

Not only is it hard to concentrate when email notifications are constantly flashing in the corner of your computer screen, it’s also nearly impossible not to subsequently head to your inbox. Avoid this distraction entirely by disabling these notices and enjoy the ability to focus exclusively on the task at hand.

Check Messages at Designated Times

Schedule specific times of day to check your email, instead of constantly hopping in and out of your inbox. If something really urgent happens in the meantime, you can be sure someone will pick up the phone and call you or walk over to your desk to get your attention.

Let Issues Work Themselves Out

When you’re included on an email with many other recipients, it’s easy for your inbox to fill up within minutes. Monitoring every message in an email chain can be a substantial time investment, so don’t feel obligated to keep up. Periodically check in to make sure nothing requires your attention, but when that many people are involved, too many opinions makes things even more chaotic.

Create Email Templates

If you send a daily status email or frequently find yourself responding to the same question, create an email template you can quickly copy and paste, so you don’t have to waste time typing out a unique message. Recipients won’t know — or care, in some cases — that you’re giving them a generic response, as long as they get the information they want.

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