The time it would take for us to binge-watch the complete first season of "Orange Is The New Black" is equivalent to the amount of time we actually spend each week dealing with email.
That's 13 hours -- 28 percent of our workweek -- the average person dedicates reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails, according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute.
"In the 90s, people actually looked forward to opening their email," says Dmitri Leonov, the VP of growth for SaneBox, an email management tool designed to keep you from falling into the black hole that is the inbox. We no longer live in the blissful "You've Got Mail"-era, and our relationship with email has developed into something draining.
For one, we expect and are expected to respond to emails within a matter of hours, all while completing the non-email related tasks (the important stuff, one might argue) our jobs require of us.
To conquer the time suck, surge your productivity and make more room in your day for a Netflix fest, abide by these three "commandments" that, Leonov says, will improve your email sanity.
Email is a game of Tetris.
Email is the equivalent to an interminable game of Tetris -- one that you can never truly win. As soon as you accept this, you'll be better equipped to handle your inbox. "You'll never win, because as soon as you clear your inbox to 0 and get to sleep, you'll wake up in the morning with a hundred more," Leonov says. "You shouldn't worry if you have thousands of emails, you're not alone."
Email shall not be your first priority.
Once you realize email is a game of Tetris, this second commandment should come pretty naturally. "Treat email as one of your priorities, but not your number one priority," Levanov says. An email is actually just another person's to-do list that has been assigned to you. So, it should be an item on your list, but not at the top. The inbox-virtuoso suggests scanning your emails in the morning to see what's important, and then close your inbox entirely to remove the distraction. Then, dedicate blocks of time to sort, delete and respond. And try to containing your email-related prioties within those designated times: Multi-tasking will do you much more harm than good.
Not all emails are created equal.
While the note from your boss holds more weight than your exotic-spice-of-the-day newsletter (hopefully), your brain subconsciously considers the two to be equally important. That can be taxing on your productivity and, really, plain stressful. To remedy, delete in bulk and bucket and label email based on its sender and subject (Gmail has a setting, for example, where you can tell if you're the only recipient of an email or have been CC'd in a group). Schedule some time on your calendar to sort through al the nonsense -- group them all together and click "delete," Leonov recommends.
And a little advice for those who happen to be the inbox-cluttering-culprit themselves: Know that it takes longer to process an email than it does to write one. Consider bolding key sentences and takeaways, which help clarify the task of the recipient. And when possible, keep it short. Leonov suggests taking the "Twitter approach" to email: "If you can fit an email message into a subject line, that is very helpful."
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