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Is E-mail Making You More Productive? Maybe Not!

Does e-mail actually make you more productive, or does it just make you feel more productive?

By
Stever Robbins,

Email overload is a huge problem for many of us. Email is a communication tool. It doesn't inherently help you get more done. All it does is speed up certain kinds of communication. It makes it easier to communicate information and harder to communicate emotion, but gives us the feeling we've accomplished something useful. You owe it to yourself to make sure email is truly making you productive, not just making you feel productive.

  1. Log how much time you spend on email in a typical day. Most of us underestimate the time we actually spend.
  2. Calculate how much time you really spend each year on email. You might be shocked to find out the results.
  3. Review email overload tips and see if any would make it easier to reclaim some of your time.
I've found that my most productive days are when I only check email a couple of times, preferably from a smartphone where it's hard to respond. I use my email inbox as a reminder of pressing issues, but don't deal with it in the moment.
 
Later that day, when turning to a given issue, my memory may say there was relevant email. I fire up my inbox, grab just the relevant email, and continue working on my issue. That way, my brain stays focused on a single thing at a time, rather than bouncing around to whatever the email authors decided was important.
 
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