This week, Harvard Business Review has a good article with some tactics for how to spend less time on email each day. Whether you work in a corporate office or work as an independent contractor, you probably spend too much time each day in your inbox.

Even if you are retired or not currently working, if you take a day off from checking your email, your inbox can be overflowing the next time you log on. The article points out that the average American worker receives 120 messages per day.

Faced with all of these emails, how are we supposed to get anything done?

How Do We Lose Time to Email

According to the article, there are five ways we lose time to our email. These result in us wasting 1 hour and 21 minutes per day:

  • Over-checking email (21 minutes per day);
  • Full inboxes (27 minutes per day);
  • Using folders to organize and find emails (14 minutes per day);
  • Archiving emails into many folders using a mouse (11 minutes per day); and
  • Reading and processing irrelevant emails (8 minutes per day).

Just think of what you could do with more than an extra hour back in your day?

Strategies to Combat the Email Time Suck

We’re not stuck being slaves to our inbox if we don’t want to be. Here are a few tips to help manage that overwhelming inbox:

  • Check your inbox hourly (this could cut 6 email checks from your day);
  • Turn off your notifications and schedule times to check your inbox (this tip is very prevalent on all the blog posts about this subject these days);
  • Always archive or delete a message after you read it (the “1 Touch Rule);
  • Use your task manager to convert emails that need an action into a to-do list item; and
  • Avoid irrelevant or less important emails individually when you can.

There are lots of other tips and tricks that you can use to tame your email inbox. The key to any of these strategies is to find one that works for your particular habits and needs.