Career Development: How Many Times a Day Should You Check Your Work Email?
I admit, this is one of my pet peeves. Probably because the work I do is done in chunks of time, and any interruption, (especially email), is a kiss of death to my productivity. Nothing annoys me faster than to have someone send me an email and then call me or come into my office and say with a wee bit of an edge in the voice, “Did you see that email I sent? I sent it an hour ago.” Well, I don’t check my email every hour. Sometimes I don’t check it all day if I’m really tied up on something.
Just how often should we be checking our emails anyway?
Minda Zetlin would disagree with my habit. In her Inc. article, “3 Reasons the Experts are Wrong About Email,” she asserts that reading your email frequently makes you and your team more productive, not less. She wrote that a lot of her work happens in email and her team members need more frequent feedback to do their jobs. She also feels she would miss critical information if she didn’t check it frequently.
Others are more in line with my way of thinking. Craig Jarrow, Author of Time Management Ninja, thinks you’ll get more done if you only check your email twice each day – once in the morning and once at the end of the day. He wrote that unless you are a customer service rep “email is not your job.”
Steve Plavlina even did an experiment and only checked his email and social media accounts three times a week to find out what would happen. He wrote a long list of key benefits including ease of maintaining focus on goals; enjoying the most productive weeks he’s had in years; and greater sense of time. In fact, he could only think of one negative: missing a disc golf game. (Read about his experiment here.)
After reading all of these articles, I surmised that there is really no right or wrong answer. I suppose it all boils down to whether or not email is one of the main tools you use in your job to get the work accomplished you were hired to do.
What do you think? How many times a day do you check your email and why?