On average, how many work-related emails do you receive daily?  

According to a study conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. (a technology market research firm in Palo Alto, CA), email is still the most common form of communication in business. In 2014, there were over 108.7 billion emails sent and received per day.

Have you ever tracked how long it takes you to sift through your emails?

Try it. You’ll be surprised how much time it takes to go through your emails. And as you read and respond to them, more are delivered to your inbox.  It’s an endless task.

How are you to accomplish any work if you’re always reading and responding to emails?

In the late 1990’s, the firm I worked for offered managers a leadership class. If I learn one new concept in a class, then I find it worthwhile. And for that class, I did learn one new concept. I learned how to manage emails.

The recommendation was to block off times during the day to read and respond to emails. By blocking off time for emails, productivity is improved because you’ve limited how much time you spend on emails.

Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my approach. In the morning, I skim through emails to see if there is anything urgent I need to address. If there are no fires to put out, then I don’t look at emails again until an hour before lunch. Usually by that time, I start thinking about food and no longer have high energy.

The next time I read and respond to emails is at the end of the day. I target doing this task when my energy level is low – I prefer saving my high energy for more difficult tasks.

My target is to respond to emails within a 24-hour period during weekdays. If someone sends me a non-urgent email Friday at 7pm, I may not respond until Monday morning. On the flip side, if I receive an urgent email, I respond as soon as possible.

With emails being delivered directly to our phones, it’s easy to respond immediately. However, it may not be the best use of your time. How can you get anything completed if you’re constantly responding to emails?

There are times when my email response would require collecting input from others. In that case, I let the sender know I need to discuss the issue with others and will respond at a later time. To me it’s professional courtesy – the sender knows I’ve received the email and I’m working on it.

For those endless internal emails, I used to move them to a “Read Later” folder. But quickly realized, I never did read them later. Instead, I open and skim the content. If it’s relevant information, then I move it to the appropriate folder. If it’s not relevant, then it’s deleted. With emails, I follow the “touch once” rule. In this way, I’m not wasting time. I open, read and take action (and that action may be deleting it).

If you’re looking for ways to improve your productivity, then look at how you manage emails. Try blocking off times during the day to read and respond. Also, try the touch once concept. Open, read and take action. Learn to work smarter, not longer. Every Wednesday, we post information  to help you with your profession. Join us on Twitter and Facebook.


Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”