How I Stopped Wasting 12 Hours A Week On Email

by Lisa Bodell for [email protected]

A decade ago, email had crept into every non-work aspect of my life—from family dinners to weekends and holidays. I wasn’t alone: Studies have shown that 81% of us check email outside of work; almost 60% monitor email on vacation; and 55% check it after 11pm on a regular basis. When we’re at our desks, it gets worse: The average worker checks email 11 times an hour and spends almost 30% of the workweek on email.

Our obsession with inboxing can be traced to what Psychology Today calls “the lottery brain.” It relates to the adaptive part of our brain that “inspires hope and a sense of possibility.” Even though our inbox often delivers distractions or frustrations, it does occasionally reward us with positive news. And because the timing of those rewards is unpredictable, we reflexively check email. The time-sucking cycle continues unless we make a deliberate choice to change our email behavior.

In my quest to reign in my own email habit, I realized that while we have limited control over what comes into our inbox, we can control how we choose to interact with it. And for those of us in leadership positions, we can actually help reshape employee attitudes and policy around email. Start retraining your own email habits with eight simple but powerful changes:

1. Adjust smartphone settings so new emails don’t appear on your lock screen.

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