Did you know that, on average, a person will receive 121 emails during each day?

That’s a fact.

It’s also a fact that, according to research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, the average person will spend 28% of the workday reading and responding to email. Crunch those numbers and what you get is 134 minutes (or 2.23 hours) per day spent emailing. Which equates to about 13 hours a week — or 650 hours a year!

And remember: this is not the amount of time we spend using a computer at work each day. No. It’s just the amount of time we spend on emails.

The cost this has on our emotional well-being is not yet known. We’ll need decades of research to find the long-term, permanent impact of this much emailing. But what’s for certain is there can be interpersonal consequences from hitting send too quickly, from saying the wrong thing, or from including the wrong person. There’s also what may be called the spiritual  consequences of detachment from people as we stare at our screens, oblivious to those around us.

You have to wonder where all this will lead our neurological pathways.

But what is a person to do about the growing percentage of time we spend emailing? Time that could be better spent engaging with staff and colleagues?

Well,  here are a few basic things you can do to keep from “tipping over”:

  1. Always try to schedule in your email time — make it work for your versus you working for it. Keep your email time in the same place each day.
  2. For the first 20 minutes of each day, focus on something other than your screen. Leave your phone and your computer and do as much work with people face-to-face as you can.
  3. Reduce the number of routine sites you check. Facebook is a huge time-waster. Only use it when you’re home.
  4. Speaking of home, don’t carry your phone in your pocket. Shut the ringer off so work emails won’t distract you when you’re home.
  5. Separate your work inbox from your personal inbox. No matter what, resist the temptation to do dual duty.
  6. When possible, delay responding to stressful emails. Be strict with yourself. Try not to respond to any angry or stressful emails for 24 hours. This will save you a lot of grief.

If these tips fail to work, you may want to consider seeing a therapist. This is not suggesting that you some deep or underlying disorder. Far from it! It’s just that some coaching and accountability may help you begin to break the chains that bind you to technology.


— Dennis Coates