In today’s highly interconnected world, we are expected to be in touch, in one way or another, usually many more than one, with just about everyone in our world. If you have control over your own time at work, or you work independently, as I do, it is important to budget your time well and stay as productive as possible.

In some settings, there may not be a choice in the matter. Some office systems are set up so that an employee has to respond to an email from a supervisor or a customer within a certain time frame. This is especially true in customer service. Despite the seeming responsiveness of such a system, it is, in actuality, extremely counterproductive and time wasting.

How Many Times Per Day Should I check Email (To Stay Productive)

Tips to Stay Productive

Avoid Information Overload

Those of us who work at a computer and receive correspondence via email need to find the best mix of keeping in touch and keeping their work flowing smoothly. Work efficiency gurus advise that so-called “knowledge” workers, that is, those who process information, should both limit interruptions and be careful of overload. This sound advice can be used to formulate the perfect rule of thumb for checking email.

For many reasons, if you work at a computer, you need to take periodic breaks. You need to clear your head so you can think better, you need to stretch and relieve the pressure in your neck and hands, and you need to review and re-evaluate your processes. Most efficiency experts find that at about fifty minutes of continuous work, both the mind and body needs a rest. They advise saving your work, stepping away from your desk for a short walk to the rest room, to get water or coffee, and to stretch. This break should not take more than ten minutes, because you do not want to lose the flow of your work completely.

Email Can Be Treated As a Break

This gives us an ideal guideline for checking email. After a short walk, a stretch and a fresh cup of water or coffee, visit your inbox and see what has been happening. For most people, there is no emergency that will arrive over email that cannot wait an hour.

Depending on the nature of your work, you may have to deal with issues raised on the internet right away, but if possible, batch your tasks and wait until you have reached a logical stopping point on the project you are currently working on, and then respond to non urgent emails. Your day will flow more smoothly if you avoid the constant interruption of emails, and you can concentrate on well formulated responses, or do any necessary research before answering, if your mind is not on your other work.

A key point is to avoid, if you possibly can, are email reminder systems that constantly beep and remind you of incoming messages. If you can work in a focused manner on a project, then deal with emails in their own time slot, you are bound to have a more productive work day.