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Email Messages Driving You Nuts?

Checking your email inbox every minute? You’re not alone…

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant 

Whether you admit it or not, it is likely that you check your email many more times a day than you need to.

When the inbox pings and the number climbs, it is difficult to resist clicking.

In fact, the average full-time American worker spends 2.6 hours reading and answering an average of 120 emails every day, according to McKinsey Analytics.

That would take a big chunk out of the day of David Proietti, principal of Oswego Community Christian School in Oswego. Instead, he streamlines the process.

The average full-time American worker spends 2.6 hours reading and answering an average of 120 emails every day.

“Check it every day, remove all emails that you don’t want to save, and unsubscribe to messages that were not invited,” he said.

His method not only streamlines the process for a day, but also ensures fewer emails come tomorrow.

To comply with Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003, those sending commercial emails must send them with an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email. You can also choose to block senders to help thin out your inbox.

It also helps to designate a “junk” account when signing up for offers (and the subsequent flood of unwanted email) and then periodically delete the emails in that account.

Only give out your email to legitimate business contacts and interests. Sign up for subscriptions that you truly care about. That can help you sort out the “seemingly urgent with the truly important,” according to Anthony D’Angelo, professor of Practice and director of the master’s program, communications management at Syracuse University.

“We’ve all seen email overtake organizational life,” he said.

He added that the ease of email has contributed to the problem. Taking just moments to read and send, why not scratch that off the to-do list? The illusion of accomplishing something—tackling that email inbox—offers a little buzz. But reading and answering unimportant emails and constantly checking wastes time.

D’Angelo instead prefers the checking of email during a few times throughout the day, such as 8 to 8:30 a.m., from noon to 12:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

“Other than those time blocks, stay away from email and concentrate on doing substantive work,” D’Angelo said. “Also, turn off your alerts so they don’t intrude on your focus. Of course, your work may require that you check your mobile device in the evenings or early mornings as well, which is understandable, but the idea is to not allow the daily email avalanche to control your schedule.”

One of his colleagues conscientiously begins every day by not looking at his email until he has completed a priority task from his to-do list.

“He said it’s helped him increase his productivity and avoid the pattern of spending the first two hours of the morning scouring his inbox,” D’Angelo said.

It also helps to keep the mailbox better organized. When checking email, immediately delete the obvious junk, address the most urgent and important emails and sort the rest of the emails to files that makes sense to you such as “useful information” or “address later.”