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Processing e-mails is a huge sink that drains our time on daily basis. Learn some hacks on how to regain control of your time, and avoid feeding this ruthless e-mail black hole!

In our last blog, we have shared our top tools toward increasing productivity. Today, we talk about a monster that is capable of eating up a significant amount of time and affect our productivity. Today we focus on our e-mail habits, and how with few hacks we can “tame” this monster from snacking-off of our precious time!

First, we need to be aware that on average we spend 1.5 to 2.5 hours on our emails everyday. And while communication is key, where prompt communication is appreciated, over-doing it can end up making us miss out on: clear thinking, and uninterrupted focus. Over-checking our emails can seriously impede our productivity at work. Nowadays, with such high volume of emails we receive, it is impossible to act on every email as soon as it arrives. Times have changed! So, we need to change accordingly and adopt a "healthier" relationship with our inbox. Here we share our best tips on how to be efficient using your email. These pointers will free-up more time for you toward better productivity.

1. Do NOT check messages first thing when you wake up.

Reading e-mails first thing in the morning can kill the workday momentum. Being unprepared to reply will lead to leaving the task of replying for later. This will waste your time twice, and will make you spend more time than needed dealing with e-mails!

2. Schedule specific times for checking E-mail

Limit the number of times you check your e-mail in a given day. Two to three times per day is actually plenty for most people.

Pro tip #1: Include email checking times in your signature block. Something like: "I only check my e-mail at 10:00, 14:00, and 17:00". Like this you proactively announce when the received e-mails will be checked. It's a polite way of saying: “You can email me any time of the day, but I’m busy and have to get some work done, so don’t always expect an immediate answer"!

Pro tip #2: Create an e-mail automatic reply. In days (or weeks) when you are super busy and can not even check your mail, then, creating an autoresponder is the way to go. Let people know that you will handle their messages within 24-48 hours, and that they can call instead ONLY if there is something URGENT or needs IMMEDIATE action.

3. Turn off your E-mail notifications

Having your email window always open, even if only in the background, can create a lot of unnecessary “noise”. Getting a new email pulls your focus away from the job at hand, forcing you to shift from task to task. We are, usually, tempted to check our inboxes whenever there’s a notification, and we tend to reply as soon as a message pops up. Like this, we are becoming more reactive, rather than proactive! We end up being more inefficient by keeping such interruptions switched on. So, do yourself a favour and "kill" all notifications on your computer and phone.

4. Use templates for quick responses

Sometimes you’ll find yourself re-typing the same email over and over again. Setting up some templates for common emails and tasks, where you just have to fill in a few details or numbers is a great trick that will save you a lot of time. Here are some templates we have prepared to save your time. And this video explains how to do it automatically in Gmail.

5. Stop using your e-mail as a to-do list!

Because emails often contain assignments and tasks for us, it’s very tempting to use an email as a visual reminder of an action you need to take. But that’s a the best recipe to lose your focus. If you can’t resolve an email within few minutes, add it to a "real" to-do list and archive the email. There are more efficient tools to use as a to-do list rather than your e-mail. Here's an example: AdviceFLS weekly planner.

6. Do NOT fire off e-mails after hours and instead schedule them!

Sending e-mails after working hours can create pressure to respond to emails outside of working hours. Since our phones are always with us, chances are, your recipient will read that email you send after work hours or on the weekend immediately. In our "always-connected" world, people may feel compelled to respond right away. But most of the time, whatever you’re sending can wait until regular work hours. So, learn to "turn off" when you "take off"! And if there's something crucially URGENT, then pick up the phone and call the person! However, you can still prepare the e-mail, but schedule it to be sent during regular working hours. This video shows you how.

Finally, adopting these e-mail habits can end up saving you hours a month, giving you more time to pace your day, get ahead of schedule, and keep important projects on track. These hacks helped us avoid tumbling into the e-mail "time-swallowing" trap. Implementing these tips in our daily lives allowed us lot regain control of our time and be more productive. We would love to hear from you if they have helped you as well, or if you plan to make a change to your e-mail habits as a result of them. Let us know in the comments below.

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