How to Cut the Time You Spend on Email in Half

January 22, 2019

The average professional spends 28% of the workday reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey analysis. For the average full-time worker in America, that amounts to a staggering 2.6 hours spent and 120 messages received per day.

Here are the five ways we unnecessarily lose this time and how to get it back:

  1. Over-checking email wastes 21 minutes per day
  2. Full inboxes waste 27 minutes per day
  3. Using folders to organize and find emails wastes 14 minutes per day
  4. Archiving emails into many folders using a mouse wastes 11 minutes per day
  5. Reading and processing irrelevant emails costs us 8 minutes per day

Email has become the bane of the 21st century workers’ existence, but by implementing just these five practices, email can once again become a tool for effective work:

  • Turn off notifications and instead check your email hourly
  • Move every email out of your inbox the first time you read it
  • Use the search functionality with search operators to re-find emails
  • Set up just two email folders and use shortcuts to archive emails there
  • Avoid processing irrelevant or less important emails individually



This is an excerpt of the article “How to Spend Way Less Time on Email Every Day” we published in Harvard Business Review.