Editor’s Note: This story is part of our feature, “Secrets of 13 of the most productive people.” See the complete 2018 list here.
An estimated 269 billion emails are sent each day worldwide. And some days it can feel like all of those are coming to your inbox. No one seems to like sending and receiving email, and yet most of us can’t pull ourselves away from impulsively checking it.
Still, it’s helpful to remember that email should be a tool to help you get your job done, it shouldn’t become your job itself. If you want to reclaim some of your time from your inbox, here are three approaches to dealing with the daily deluge.
Put your devices away. “Seventy-five percent of Americans can reach their phones without moving their feet 24 hours a day,” says Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. “It’s easier to resist the charms of your inbox if it’s not within reach.”
Check email three times a day: when you arrive at your desk, before lunch, and at the end of the day. Try a tool like Inbox Pause, which delivers emails at preset times.
Consider a service such as Shortwhale, which allows you to limit the length of emails and set up an FAQ page, reducing the number of messages you receive or need to respond to. “It ensures that they aren’t occupying your time needlessly,” says Alter.