The average employee receives 120 emails per day, and has 200 messages in their inbox. This results in them spending 28% of the working day on emails – or around 13 hours of every working week.

If this sounds familiar, there are some easy and creative ways to cut down on time spent reading and replying to emails, without impacting your productivity or output.

Check less frequently

Few emails need urgent responses – especially when colleagues or clients have the option to reach you by phone in an emergency. So get out of the habit of continually checking your inbox, as this is an enormous time drain. In fact, research puts the average time it takes for a user to return to their previous productivity levels after an interruption at anywhere between 64 seconds to a whopping 23 minutes.

The typical employee checks their emails 15 times a day, or around every 37 minutes. Stretching this to one hour instead doesn’t seem like a huge revolution, but doing so would cut six email checks every day – and provide a routine to the working day that would make it easy to stick to.

Do a little housekeeping

If that figure of 200 messages in your inbox sounds familiar (or worse, if it sounds grossly optimistic), some housekeeping could be in order.

Cleaning up your inbox, moving items to separate folders, or deleting things that are not needed or have already been resolved will actually have a tangible benefit on your productivity.

Around 27 minutes of each day is lost due to overcrowded inboxes. Search may allow you to find what you need relatively easily, but if there are many results to wade through this still takes time. Furthermore, full inboxes mean the user re-reads emails time and again – even when they’re not relevant. Moving or deleting them will free up time that would otherwise be wasted.

Use filters

Microsoft has utilised the Focused and Other inboxes for good reason – a lot of time is wasted on emails that don’t require urgent attention. Using filters (either manually set up yourself or Microsoft’s options) will help ensure anything needed a quick response will be top of your agenda, whilst those less urgent messages can be kept separate for a time when you’re free to go through them.