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October 13, 2014

How Often Do You Check Email?

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Is it incessantly? Like, every time you have a free moment? Because there was a time when I checked my email while walking, while sitting at stop lights, even while going to the bathroom. I know. Gross on multiple levels. But I thought that if I could JUST stay on top of my inboxes (yes, there are several), I’d feel more organized and less stressed. Then I discovered that constantly checking my email actually leads to MORE stress and less productivity. It’s been scientifically proven. According to Fast Company, a recent study found that the average worker checks their email 74 times a day or nine times an hour in a typical eight-hour workday. Yeesh. The study also found that there’s a correlation between increased email usage and stress as well as poor mood. (Reminds me of that line from Steel Magnolias: I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years. And it was the email!)

But, but, but. . . you say. And I would understand why your first instinct is to argue with this theory, to believe that if you don’t keep your email edge that everything will implode overnight. I thought the same thing, until I met Kathy Hanson of Backpocket Strategy. I’ve been taking her Business Series during which she challenged us to check email no more than four times a day. I scoffed out loud. But the more Kathy talked about the time-saving value of compartmentalizing email, the more I realized I was checking it as a means of procrastinating from boring or difficult tasks at hand. I started noticing things other things, too. I was seeing the same emails over and over again, stressing over the new ones, and making mental notes about how I would respond to this one or that one later. I was also physically tensing up every time I looked at my inbox. But mostly, I realized that when I stopped checking email all the time I HAD more time. I felt less stressed out. And nothing bad happened! Although I still check it more than I’d like (four times a day remains the goal), I often resist the urge because it’s like a game now. A really healthy, amazing game. Cutting back has honestly been a revelation. I feel like I have free time and a clearer head for the first time in years. Try it, even for a few days, and I promise you will never look at your inbox the same way again.

{image via We Heart It

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    ABOUT ELIZABETH
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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