E-mail overload? Three ways to tame your in box.

Could something as simple as e-mail really solve America’s current economic woes? Consider its drag on productivity: With more than 294 billion e-mails sent worldwide every day, office workers spend a quarter of their working hours on e-mail-related tasks. You can make a powerful improvement in your output – and boost American productivity in the process – by making a few adjustments to your in-box routine. Here are three ways to eliminate your e-mail overload:

1. Check your in box five times a day – or less

Illustration by Jake Turcotte / The Christian Science Monitor
The average office worker checks his mail 50 times a day, according to one estimate. You can cure e-mail overload by checking it only five times daily.

In order to be most productive, you need blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on vital tasks that add the most value to your business. Excessive in-box viewing wastes time and adds to e-mail overload. One time-management software firm estimates the average office worker checks his in box 50 times a day; I suggest five. Even if you work a job that demands that you stay on top of your e-mails, that five viewings allow you to see your e-mail about every 90 minutes. (Hint: Wait an hour and a half after getting to the office before you open your in box.) Schedule the specific times during the day that you will check your in box, and stick to it.

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