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Productivity / Business Productivity

4 simple email hacks that will claim back an hour a day

Think you’re an email ninja when it comes to processing that little email notification popup in the bottom of your screen? What if turning it off could save you an hour of your day?

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Yesterday I was sitting with a friend of mine who also runs her own business. She was struggling to work out why she wasn’t getting through her tasks in a single day. Yet, throughout our ten minute conversation, she ‘checked out’ of what we were discussing three times to read an email alert that had popped up on her screen and caught her attention. Not the email – just the alert. And each time she read one it took a few moments for her to reconnect with our conversation.

Here’s another scenario: you’re on your computer working. You’ve set aside an hour to write that proposal for a new prospect. You get a few paragraphs in and start to feel like you’re getting somewhere when in the corner of your screen a little pop up appears letting you know a new email has come in from a client. Before the pop up disappears you notice the subject, she wants to know where her project is up to. You have a quick think about it and make the mental note that you’ll respond to her later to let her know the project is on track.

And then you bring your eyes back to your document to continue working.

Have you done this?

Are you doing it right now while you try to read this article?

That simple action of stopping what you’re doing, being distracted by your email notification and then re-focusing on the task at hand just cost you 60 seconds of effectiveness. Imagine if you got five emails in the course of the hour you were working on your document. You’ve just nuked 8% of the time you dedicated to get the job done. Suddenly you need an extra five minutes at the end of your hour to finish the document. It’s easy to see how your day can cascade with these little extra five minutes here and there.

"No matter which email tool you use - the notifications can be turned off … Do it now."

We’re all guilty of being a slave to our inbox – that little notification pops up letting us know a new email has arrived and we can’t help but instantly click across to see what it is. Even if we know we aren’t going to read or action that email, the simple task of checking and returning to what we were originally doing costs us time because every time we do it, we need to bring our brain back to the job we were originally doing. If you get around 60 emails a day that’s potentially an entire hour of time you’re losing. An hour!

So now I’m going to share four email hacks that will save you an hour every day:

1.Turn notifications off

No matter which email tool you use – the notifications can be turned off (don’t forget that little number that pops up on the browser tab if you’re using Gmail – get rid of that too). Do it now.

Instructions for Gmail

Instructions for Outlook

2. Diarise when you will check email

Next what you will want to do is schedule times with yourself throughout the day when you will check your email. It might be first thing in the morning, half way through the day and again in the afternoon. Find what works for you but only check your emails during these periods when you have dedicated time to actually read and action your emails.

3. Set up an auto responder

If – by turning off your email notifications you’re nervous about missing important emails then my advice is to pop on an autoresponderthat lets people know that you only check your inbox at certain times through the day and if the matter is urgent they should just give you a call.

4. Turn your phone upside down

It doesn’t always help to turn off your notifications on your smart device because it’s likely you need them when you’re out and about. So my advice is that while you are at your desk, outside of your email checking periods, turn the device face down until you’re ready to see notifications (and turn off vibrate).

Spend 20 minutes putting the above in place and I know you’ll be able to work both more productively and feel that stress of checking your inbox constantly disappear. It’s a hard habit to break but if you do it for a week you’ll be surprised how quickly you can adapt.

Let me know how this goes for you and if you have any questions about adapting the idea to work for you, share them below! Do you have any other email hacks to share?

Caroline Leppers

is the director of One Red Thread. She is passionate about helping businesses implement great systems and digital tools that enable them to work smarter and simplify the running of their business.

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