This is the third post in my mini series about email productivity. For those of you who missed the first two I have provided links to them below.
Email Productivity Experiment
Email Productivity Experiment – Update 1
Well, I have had a rather busy week this week and not had a great deal of time scheduled for writing. I have however being able to implement a few changes to my email system and track the outcome. It is always great to schedule things like this when you are at your busiest so you can get a real grasp of how effective the changes have been. This week has been a great week for this next test.
In the last installment of this series, I tracked over a few days the number of times that I checked email in a normal working day. I was quite shocked to find out that I had checked email 62 times during the working day. Wow, that is a lot of email!
Using a distraction penalty of 90 seconds, this works out to just over an hour and a half of wasted productivity due to checking email.
So, what I have tried this week is very basic and I have just set the default mail collection time from the default five minutes to one hour. So, instead of Mail.app checking for new email across my 8 email accounts every 5 minutes, it now only checks for new mail once an hour.
I was very skeptical if this would work for me as I am rather a heavy email user and my time is always requested from many people within my organization. But, I gave it a try.
As I was very busy, and not twiddling my thumbs, the first few hours passed like a dream. I must admit that I even forgot about email and then remembered on the hour when my new mail notification would sound and I would merrily go and check my email. What I found is pretty obvious. Rather than dealing with the odd email every five minutes, and also the annoying ones that bypass the spam filters, I was working in batch. Working in batch really does save you time. I was getting roughly 15 emails every hour. I could skim through these, delete what I did not need, archive ones that required archiving or clipping ones that required more thought into my OmniFocus inbox for processing during one of my processing sessions.
So, how did I do. Well, I checked email 23 times during the day. This is a great improvement from 62 times and I did actually feel that it made my day more productive. I have been really busy and focused all week and I must admit that the time between email seemed to fly and I found myself using it as a time marker, often remarking that the last hour had flown by.
62 to 23 is a reduction from 93 minutes to 34.5 minutes of distraction (based upon a 90 second penalty) therefore saving me an hour a day of productive time!.
Wow, what a simple way to save an hour a day!
Why did I check the email 23 times and not 10? (as I normally work 10 hour days). Well, I did find myself being asked about topics and emails that had been sent at times throughout the day and I just could not resist being the odd one out in the office so I did find myself hitting the Get Mail button to check for new mail in between a few of the hourly regular checks.
This is an area where I need to improve and I plan to stop the automatic collection next week as Mail.app will only allow you to set one hour mail collection as the maximum default. I plan to check mail at 0900, 1200, 1500, and 1700. 4 times a day from 62 times. Should be fun!
I have had some fantastic comments on the last two posts and I hope you all keep the comments up on this post as I love to read the ideas you are all having about saving time and becoming more productive when dealing with email.
Thanks, and have a great weekend!