Tips & Insights

How to track and reduce your time spent on email

Something we usually hear from our users is about how long they spend on email. Let's take a look at the data:

A 2018 survey by Adobe of over 1,000 office workers in the USA found they spent an average of 3.1 hours a day on work email, plus 2.5 hours per weekday on personal email.

That's an average of 5.6 hours of your valuable time each day just on email! Email is the universal communication tool, but all that time spent can't be productive. And time is money. For an average office worker making $50,000 a year, each hour of work time is worth $24.04.

Ok, that's a lot of numbers, I know.

But those numbers are why it feels like our work consists of handling an endless stream of disorganized emails. What if we could help reduce and organize this madness for the average office worker?

If we could help saving only 30 minutes of their daily work email time, they could save a total of $240 of productive work time, every month! Do this math for your own salary :-)

Not bad for 30 minutes. Let's take a look at how it's done.

Less email time, better email time

First things first, we need to understand how long we spend on email every day. Using Email Meter you can discover when you are sending or receiving the most emails, who is contacting you the most, how many emails you're CC'd on and more, so you can see where most of your time goes.

Screenshot of the Email Meter dashboard, showing when you're spending more time on email.

You can combine these insights with a tool like Toggl or Clockify (or even an old stopwatch) to track how long you spend on different tasks. This should give you a good idea of how long you spend in your email client each day.

Let me propose a place to start: track your time for a whole week and input what you find into a spreadsheet.

Now you have a starting point. How can we bring that number down? Let's save time!

Declutter your inbox

It's impossible to even know where to start if your inbox is a mess. This could be killing serious amounts of your time if you have to spend 10 minutes just finding an email. Clear, sort, label and declutter. Don't be afraid to delete or archive what you don't need!

A great first step for me was creating labels and filtering emails I receive frequently. It can be daunting at first, but once you set it up you'll enjoy a much less cluttered experience. It also helps a lot being conscious on what emails you're checking and what mindset you're in when you're checking them.

For example, I created a label for all newsletters I'm subscribed to. My filter set-up routes all newsletter emails into that label. When I subscribe to a new newsletter, I just take the email address where it came from and add it to my filter.

My Gmail filters set-up to avoid a cluttered inbox.

Now I don't get distracted by newsletters, and I can read them all when I'm in the mood to do so. No distractions while I'm working! You can also apply this to receipts or other emails.

Plan email time ahead

Notifications by their very nature are distracting. You could be sat writing a reply to someone when suddenly a new email arrives, and your train of thought is gone.

A great way to avoid this is to give yourself a few times throughout the day when you check, sort and reply to emails. Look at when you receive the most emails throughout the day on our Busiest Hours metric. Pick a slot after the bulk arrives and you should be able to work (relatively) peacefully. As recommended by GTD methodology!

Schedule your emails

When your email lands in a recipients inbox can affect how long you'll have to stare at your screen waiting for a reply. Get into the top of the pile at the start of a Monday, and chances are you'll get a much quicker response than if it arrives at midnight on a Friday.

You can use Gmail's email scheduling feature combined with our Best Contact Time metric for perfect timing.

Screenshot of the Email Meter add-on

The Top Interactions table and our Gmail Add-on also tell you the best time to contact someone. We calculate this from when that contact most likely to email you, and more likely to be checking their emails.

Monitor your results

The last thing you want to do is make sure any changes you make are working. Keep track of your time tracking app and your stats in Email Meter. It could take a little while to see results and change your routine, I promise you that the time (and money) saved will be worth it!

Give it one week and check your progress. Have spent less time emailing?

If you did, enjoy your improved productivity and don't hesitate to tell us what's your next productivity barrier may be.

If you haven't reduced it by at least 30 minutes a day and you're not saving money, please reach out at hello@emailmeter.com. I'm very interested in hearing your story!

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