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How Much of Your Day Is Wasted on Emails?

By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano

I have a friend who – once per quarter – tracks every minute he spends over the course of the week: minutes spent eating, sleeping, commuting, exercising, and living his daily life, as well as minutes spent at work: answering emails, sitting on conference calls, and devoting time for learning and growing his skill set.

In doing so four times per year, he is able to get a tangible bird’s eye view at where his time is going – where it is well-spent and where it is wasted. He notes gaps between his expectations and reality, trends from audit to audit, and potential areas of improvement.

As you can imagine, when you look at your days minute-by-minute, the amount of time wasted certainly adds up. Harvard Business Review reported on findings from studies by Zarvana — a company that teaches research-backed time management practices — to show just how much of our time per day is spent on emails alone. Would you believe that 2.6 hours per day are spent reading and replying to emails? The following wasted time is spent in regards to email:

  • 21 minutes: Over-checking emails

  • 27 minutes: Searching through full inboxes

  • 11 minutes: Archiving/sorting emails

  • 8 minutes: Reading and processing irrelevant emails

Talk about wasted time! Plus, the average person checks their email every 37 minutes, and it takes the average person 23 minutes and 15 seconds to mentally recover and regain focus after an interruption. This amounts to an extreme loss of productivity throughout the day, in addition to added stress and clutter.

So, the next time your day is interrupted by the ping of an incoming email, stop and think: Can this wait? Plus, what else could you learn from seeing where every single minute of your day goes? Keep track and take notes!

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