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Email Challenge Day 5 – A Scary but Liberating Email Tactic

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Welcome back to the final day of the email challenge. When we first started it, our goal for you was to cut your email time in half.

Most of us are addicted to our inbox in some shape or form. We might have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that we miss important emails. Some feel like they need to have their email client open all day to be responsive. Others think they can’t miss out on the latest and greatest flash sales.

As you’ve (hopefully) realized by now, email is a huge time suck. It takes up more of your time and attention than you think it does. When you recorded how often you checked email, you probably realized you check it more often than you think. The reality is, that is a number you were conscious of. There are also times when you check email without you even thinking about it. So whatever number you recorded, chances are the real number is slightly higher.

Through this challenge we wanted to bring awareness to this and make you realize that email is a huge time suck. Luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be that way for the rest of your life. With just a few simple tweaks, you can reclaim your time.

At this point, if you’ve followed along:

1. You know how often you check your email in a day
2. You archived emails older than 30 days
3. You know the basics of how to process email in 30 minutes
4. You have written 5 email templates

You now have a manageable inbox and you know how to deal with most types of emails efficiently.

Remember how you recorded how often you checked email in a day? I’d like to share with you examples of submissions of other AE readers.

As you can see, it’s all over the map. Some people check email more than 100 times, others check 5 times a day.

To live up to one of our core values, Kaizen (continuous improvement), anything you do can always be improved. Even after six years of starting AE, I still tweak my email workflow, my morning ritual and the way I work. Even if you only check email three times a day, you can get it down to once or twice a day.

Today’s challenge is about making that shift.

Email Challenge Day 5: Only check email 2/3/4/5 times a day

Your challenge for today is to check email only a few times – way less often than what you recorded earlier in the week.

I know some of you might feel scared doing this but if you’ve made it this far you know what we’ve shown you simply works.

We’ve worked with hundreds of clients who were scared doing this but they were so happy once they got used to it. I know you’ll be too.

So how often should you check your email? This is based on how many emails you get in a day. Here’s a simple scale you can use:

  • If you get fewer than 30 emails a day, check only twice.
  • If you get 30-50 emails a day, check three times.
  • If you get 50-80 emails a day, check four times.
  • If you get 80+ emails a day, check five times.

You can ballpark how many emails you get. If you want to precise, just look at your inbox and see how many you got yesterday and the day before to get an idea.

The next question you might have…at what times should you check email? There’s no exact science behind this but the overarching idea is that you want to give yourself enough time in between email to focus and work on things that matter.

Here are examples of schedules we’ve recommended for clients (assuming a standard 9-5 timeframe).

Checking email 2x/day:

9am – eat your frog
10am – check email
4pm – check email

Notice how the day doesn’t start with checking email. It starts with working on your frog – your most important task. Only after you’re done do you check email (in an ideal world). Checking email at 4pm gives you enough time to deal with all remaining emails before you head home.

Checking email 3x/day:

9am – eat your frog
10am – check email
1pm – check email
4pm – check email

After your frog is done, you have enough time to do deep work in between email sessions. Once you’re done with lunch, checking email is an easy way to ease back into work (especially if you had a big lunch).

Checking email 4x/day:

9am – check email
11.30am – check email
1pm – check email
4pm – check email

If you have to check email four times a day, your work is probably revolved around email communication such as customer service, sales and account management. You could possibly eat a frog depending how time sensitive your work is. You have pockets in between to get work done but isn’t likely to be much deep work.

Checking email 5x/day:
9am – check email
11.30am – check email
1pm – check email
3pm – check email
4.30pm – check email

The only difference here is that you check email more often in the afternoon. This gives you some room to get a little bit of deep work done in the morning (when most people have the most energy).

If you’re getting over 80 emails, you have a lot of room for improvement to cut that number down. You most likely have a lot of “notification” emails and newsletters you want to read (but most likely don’t make time for). In an upcoming training we’ll show you how to address this.


Earlier in the week you dealt with emails in 30-minute increments. We want you to continue to do that each time you check emails.

Go ahead and check email only a few times today. Put it on your calendar and stick to it.

All of us get paid and rewarded for things we do outside of email. Even though email might be an important medium in our lives, the value and contribution we make happen outside of our inboxes. Nobody wants to be remembered for their fast email replies…but we do for what we did for our families and projects at work.

So let’s make sure you don’t spend a lot of time in your inbox. You already took the first step. You now have parts of the email system we teach inside our course Escape Your Email and to all of our private clients.

The only thing you’re really missing is a well-oiled system for dealing with all types of emails, with the right email app for your unique situation. It’s something we teach you inside our Escape Your Email course that’s coming out soon which includes:

  • A proven system for dealing with every type email efficiently (tasks, newsletters, information, notifications, appointments)
  • Email templates you can copy and paste to save time
  • Step by step videos for how to implement filters, systems, and tactics in Gmail, Outlook and Apple Mail
  • How to read email newsletters you like on a regular basis without forgetting about them (and without cluttering up your todo list)
  • How to deal with email in a corporate environment where you’re expected to be available 24/7 and reply within 10 minutes (and still have a life outside of work)
  • Our favorite email-addons and apps to simplify email and your life

And much more.

Let us know in the comments if you were able to check email less often! Did you notice how much more free time you have now? Do you feel you have more peace of mind?

Do this before September 26, 11.59pm Pacific (Los Angeles). We will select the winners of the prizes (Apple Watch, Amazon Echo, Fitbit Charge) within a week.

Even if you don’t win a prize, you still won hours of free time and peace of mind. That in itself is worth so much more.

Discover the 1 Lifehack of Highly Successful People

This one lifehack led to the biggest breakthrough of my career. People like Steve Jobs and Oprah have used it to catapult their success, and now you can too.


Posted by Niran  | September 27, 2017 at 9:45AM | Reply

Done – Down to checking 2 times per day

Posted by Julian Wattam  | September 27, 2017 at 8:16AM | Reply

I didn’t count how often I check email but I know it’s got to be around 100, and I’ve figured out a solution. My company forces me to use Outlook and I’ve got it set up to show me all the places email arrives which is great for keeping on top of things and spending the whole day in email…

The problem is when I’m looking up reference info and emails for the task I’m trying to work on, I can see all those other locations and their count of unread emails. So it’s not just FOMO, I actually KNOW I’m missing out!

The solution I’ve realised is to have a separate Outlook profile (we use Exchange) that is set up to show me only the mail folder I’ve set up to hold emails relating to pending tasks, plus my reference folder. I connect to that profile when I’m doing deep work, and switch to the original profile to do email handling.

The solution is not perfect as I still see all those emails relating to a multitude of tasks in my task manager, but my focus has been significantly narrowed.

Posted by Liz Rolle  | September 26, 2017 at 1:23PM | Reply

Very excited! Such major improvements! I can totally cut down the number of times I check email. Almost more important: I can do it all mindfully! I’m resisting the draw to check first thing in the morning.
Developed a new and unforeseen problem: I had to remove an addictive game from my phone. Now when I take a break, the temptation is to check my email on the phone instead of playing a game! But since I hate reading on my phone, I usually just run through and hit ‘delete’ or ‘file/archive’ a lot.
All of my inboxes are pretty cleaned up now and whatever is left feels like it NEEDS and WANTS to be addressed and eliminated.
Great stuff!
Working toward being more mindful about my goals and intentional tasks now that I have so little email to deal with.

Posted by Dan Roberson  | September 26, 2017 at 9:46AM | Reply

I’m not quite to the 2/3/4/5 yet, but I’ve made significant progress. I’ve been at 8 or under with my email checks. That’s a huge win for me as I started at 59! The tips and techniques I’ve picked up from this challenge have made a tremendous impact on my workflow and the amount of actual work I can get done. Thanks AE team for a great challenge and even more so for the time you’ve given back to all of us!

Posted by Tara  | September 26, 2017 at 6:30AM | Reply

The biggest challenge was the number of times I check emails each day. Yesterday, I checked 4x! This is epic for me. I believe I will follow the 4-5x a day but eat the frog first. In order to be successful, I have to close Outlook and turn off notification on my 2 devices. Personal emails aren’t an issue, it is the work emails. Today my goal is 4x.

I truly appreciate this challenge. I’m in babystep mode but consistency is key! Thank you!

Posted by Samuel  | September 26, 2017 at 1:52AM | Reply

This is an interesting challenge. I’ve been following AE for awhile and thought “there’s no way this can apply to me” especially since I’m in outside sales. Boy…was I wrong! Tried it today for the first time. Turned off email notifications on my iPad and iPhone and made my calls throughout the day. It was immensely helpful as I was able to get quite a bit of work done! Also, having a focused block of time for processing my email allows me to get it done more quickly and efficiently than I normally would. Thanks for the encouragement! I look forward to learning and being challenged more.

Posted by John S.  | September 25, 2017 at 8:07PM | Reply

I reduced my e-mail reading from 10-12 times per day to 5. I tried for 3 today, but I was away from the office and coordinating a meeting this afternoon so I felt the need to check for anything urgent. I am spending less than an hour per day on e-mail . I have more peace of mind knowing messages that require action from me are on my to-do list. I have my to do list sorted by category with a category for each project. When I get an action e-mail,l I simply assign it to a category and flag it. My to-list in Outlook is sorted by category, but I also have due dates assigned.

Posted by Jeffrey  | September 25, 2017 at 6:06PM | Reply

Checking my email has been a hard habit to break. I want to check it only three times a day, but I tend to almost automatically pop it open. I need to track my email checks to become more conscious of it. I have all the alerts off, so at least I don’t get interrupted. Cheers!

Posted by Oli  | September 25, 2017 at 5:34PM | Reply

14 times on Day 1, 6 (quick – less than 20 mins each) times on Day 5. Think that’s progress! Clearing the 30+ day-old emails was a huge win.

Like a couple of posters have said, sometimes you need to go back into Outlook for info in archived/reference emails, so forwarding as much reference info into Evernote will remove that need.

Haven’t seen Inbox Zero YET, but I’m at 14 work & 14 personal emails, and it was 150+ when I started the challenge. Need to become more ruthless in sending EVERY >2 minute task into Wunderlist, and work our of that rather than Outlook.

Thanks AE for the challenge – the horizon looks a little brighter now!

Posted by Wanda  | September 25, 2017 at 4:02PM | Reply

Success in small increments! I am down to checking my email 5x a day (with a goal of getting to 3 or 4 times), and I have shut off both the little indicator envelope in the corner of my monitor, and the ping that sounds off when a new email comes in. One of these days maybe I’ll just close out of Outlook altogether. :)

Thank you for helping me with this!

Posted by Kelley  | September 25, 2017 at 3:25PM | Reply

i didn’t check emails at all over the weekend and only twice today so far.

Posted by Lisa Young  | September 25, 2017 at 1:41PM | Reply

I’m checking a lot less today, but haven’t figured out how I want to decide how to check work and home – since they can’t be combined, unfortunately.

Posted by Joe P.  | September 25, 2017 at 12:32PM | Reply

Checked mail 2x each day over the weekend and have set up reminders to check email 3x on weekdays.

Posted by Myru  | September 25, 2017 at 11:22AM | Reply

With all the tips from Day 1 to Day 5 challenge helps me clear my inbox for the first time and to check my email from 4 times down to 2. That means more time for more meaningful things. Thank you so much AE!

Posted by Jim  | September 25, 2017 at 11:20AM | Reply

Did not check email all weekend. I was surprised to find the world did not come to an end on Monday! Thanks

Posted by Alex Ferrero  | September 25, 2017 at 11:06AM | Reply

Down to checking email only 3x per day, and I have removed notifications on my phone from distracting me throughout the day. Great challenge, thanks!

Posted by Cheryl  | September 25, 2017 at 11:02AM | Reply

Using 30 min 3x a day to process works really well. Still checking a few more times, but not incessantly.
Thanks AE!

Posted by Todd  | September 25, 2017 at 10:44AM | Reply

I have managed to only check 3x/day over the past few days and down to 2x/day on the weekend. Processing has taken me less than 20 minutes each time. I was nervous about not checking between 4pm and 10am, but that has not proven to be an issue. I’ll echo another comment about getting info out of email into a reference file and/or task manager has also greatly helped avoid unnecessary trips to my email client.

Posted by Heather  | September 25, 2017 at 9:43AM | Reply

This was so scary to try! I realized my biggest concern was that information I might need to do my MIT or other tasks would only be found in my email box. However, because I’ve been sending information to a task manager and OneNote, I actually had everything I needed without opening my email. So liberating!

Posted by Charles Mason  | September 25, 2017 at 9:28AM | Reply

Lots of good stuff in these challenges. I particularly liked the idea of trolling thru sent mail to locate potential templates for future replies. I have reduced time spent on email during the week, but probably need to ramp up efforts if I am to get my inbox down to single digit levels on an ongoing basis.

Posted by CBK  | September 25, 2017 at 8:31AM | Reply

Checking less than the first time. Setting a goal to get down to 5 times a day and eventually less. Will work to build a better habit around checking email.

Posted by Nate Lowrie  | September 25, 2017 at 7:04AM | Reply

So far, I worked on this for 3 days straight. I managed to look at my email 3 or 4 times each of the 3 days. The speed at which I processed email has definitely increased. Thanks AE!

Posted by Barb  | September 24, 2017 at 10:16PM | Reply

My challenge is to stop myself checking email on my phone when I don’t have something to do. That’s where a lot of my checking comes from. I’m not sure I can bring myself to delete it from my phone though, as I like being able to go through & delete all the ones I don’t want to deal with before I start working through my inbox when I get home.

Posted by Neil  | September 24, 2017 at 8:17PM | Reply

Spent this weekend only checking 2-3x per day. I can definitely see advantages to this and look forward to seeing how it plays out at work.

Posted by Steve Woodfield  | September 24, 2017 at 3:32PM | Reply

This was a tough one. However, I managed to limit myself to checking my email 5 times. However, they were quite big blocks of time, as I was determined to get stuff out of my !Action folder into my (trusted) task manager (Nozbe). I felt very liberated after doing this, and I’m glad that I did this in batches rather than dipping in an out of my email 28 times like I did on a previous day. Going through this challenge also gave me the mental strength to resist dipping into my mail on the phone on my commute home. The challenge must have worked, and now I just need to develop a solid email ritual this coming week.

Posted by Dani Smith  | September 24, 2017 at 3:22PM | Reply

I am reducing the number of times I check my email to two per day – unless I’m working on closing a transaction. Otherwise, my clients benefit more from my focus.

Posted by Brenda  | September 24, 2017 at 12:46PM | Reply

Significant reduction in time spent in email. Pretty sure would have seen more progress but disrupted schedule due to medical appointments. Inbox not yet to zero but parking the over 30 days old emails got numbers down enough that I see light at the end of the tunnel [and no whistle blowing so not a train!!]. Thanks for the challenge – and for giving me hope!

Posted by Simon  | September 24, 2017 at 11:35AM | Reply

I’d check my emails 2-3 times a day if it weren’t my iPhone… It’s too easy to fill up idle time by opening Airmail on my phone. Any ideas and suggestions? Anyway, thank you AE guys, this is a great challenge.

Posted by Amanda  | September 24, 2017 at 9:08AM | Reply

down to checking email 2-3 times per day- so liberating. Thanks for an awesome challenge!

Posted by Jenny Kutz  | September 24, 2017 at 8:37AM | Reply

This challenge has been so relevant and timely. I’m still implementing (it was an unusual week due to handling urgent media calls and preparing to be out for a conference) but I’m confident I can eat my frog first, check only 3x a day and process.

Posted by M. K. Hassan  | September 24, 2017 at 5:18AM | Reply

Thanks for the tips. It really worked & I am growing up tp manage my inbox in a prudent and effective manner.

Posted by Katie  | September 23, 2017 at 10:08PM | Reply

I got it down to 2 to 3 times a day. Now to keep this going!

Posted by Dave  | September 23, 2017 at 8:11PM | Reply

Thanks for the help this week! I’ve gone from 1400+ to 0 items in my inbox. I use GMail Priority Inbox with:
1 Unread
2 Now
3 Next
4 Everything else
And when I process Unreads, I respond immediately if <2 minutes, move to Now if urgent to process once inbox is clear, move to Next if not urgent. Ideally nothing should show up in the last line. The goal is to spend 30 minutes, twice a day working through the Unreads, then Nows, and if there is time in the 30 minutes, the Nexts.
I have an alarm set at 9:30 and 3:30 on weekdays to process email.
I still checked email about 6-7 times yesterday – going to twice a day will be a challenge, but seems worth it.
I use Slack for immediate contact with my team, but it's fairly low volume.

Posted by David  | September 23, 2017 at 6:52PM | Reply

I followed 3x a day up to about 1pm. Then 3 more times. Still better than before this week, so I’ll keep working on it. I can definitely see improvement in productivity. Your training has been invaluable. Thank you!

Posted by Susanna  | September 23, 2017 at 1:32PM | Reply

I checked three x yesterday, probably get just about 30 emails so I could probably do less. I am a stay at home mom with some side work as a bookkeeper. I did this challenge with my personal email but am going to go through and implement some of it with my work email. It really helped me not mindlessly check my Email which is mostly newsletters etc. don’t want my kids to see me constantly checking my phone just for the news! I look forward to implementing a check email time so I can get clear it out and then ignore it the rest of the day!

Posted by Steve  | September 23, 2017 at 1:14PM | Reply

I created three daily reminders to read and process my emails. Let’s see how that goes. Thanks for the five days!!

Posted by Russ  | September 23, 2017 at 1:00PM | Reply

4x yesterday. Now for the habit. I have email scheduled for 4x per day and placing urgent ones in a separate folder will hopefully keep me from using my general as my to-do list.

Posted by Vickie Ruggiero  | September 23, 2017 at 12:27PM | Reply

Randall, this is a problem I have as well – I have a customer service role as well a project management role, so in addition to working off the Outlook calendar, I work out of the tasks view frequently – and those are usually email related! I also find that, because I’m often out of the lab for meetings, etc. that checking email is a reflex. Plus I have 3 email addresses to juggle between work, personal, and my PhD program… it gets complicated quickly!

My goal is to reduce work email checks to 4-5x/day, and personal/school to 3x day. Time to set some reminders!

Posted by Thomas  | September 23, 2017 at 12:24PM | Reply

Thank you for the challenge. I enjoyed it really much. I have to admit that I did not execute all steps yet as I received the advice-mails always in the afternoon, respective after my working hours, due to the time shift.
On Monday I will add slots to check my mails to my calendar and try to implement hat habit.

Thanks again!

Best regards

Posted by Raymond Perez  | September 23, 2017 at 12:03PM | Reply

was checking 5times an hour before. Now twice a day. Great time saver and never missed anthing significant.

Posted by Richard  | September 23, 2017 at 11:17AM | Reply

While checking email less is a habit that takes time to foster, the direct impact of the archiving activity we did has made my inbox a lot cleaner and allowed me more peace of mind knowing that important emails will still stay safely stored in an area I can access easily, without intruding on my inbox space.

Posted by Mary  | September 23, 2017 at 10:41AM | Reply

I definitely saw an improvement over the past week! My goal is to get myself down to 3x a day. It also helped that I turned off push notifications for all my devices and inboxes.

Posted by Jim  | September 23, 2017 at 10:03AM | Reply

I get the visual cue that I have a new e-mail. Unless it is my boss (and he expects a timely response), I will wait until one of my 3 scheduled times to check e-mail

Posted by Dave  | September 23, 2017 at 10:02AM | Reply

Tried to follow the 3x a day suggested times. I caught myself breaking the rules twice, but otherwise much fewer than 20+ times a day.

Posted by Kristen Smith  | September 23, 2017 at 9:59AM | Reply

I’m happy to report that I only checked my email three times yesterday, down from 14 times on Monday.

Also, I’ve been using Toggl to track my time spent on each project, and this has been a big help in encouraging me not to check email (because every time I check email, I have to record it)!

Posted by Matthew Austin  | September 23, 2017 at 9:41AM | Reply

I really tried to check email less often yesterday. I noticed it was a reflex to switch to Mail every time I was bored with my task or what I was doing felt ‘difficult’. I quit Mail so it was much harder to check often, and this really cut down the number of times I checked.

Posted by Chris Williams  | September 23, 2017 at 8:51AM | Reply

I am checking email less after this week of attentiveness to my email habits. I have caught myself wanting to check email, but forcing myself to wait for a time when I am ready to truly work on email and process what has come in.

I am working to get my email checking down to two times per day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

I am less worried about what’s stacking up in my email inbox and am finding it easier to relax in the evening because I am not constantly checking and responding to email after I conclude my work day.

Posted by Diane Thompson  | September 23, 2017 at 7:22AM | Reply

I still feel a little anxious not checking my email as often – afraid to miss something urgent, but I have been able to cut down the constant checking. Nothing terrible has happened when I haven’t checked…. I am being weaned off the addiction slowly.

Posted by Benjamin Marshan  | September 23, 2017 at 6:52AM | Reply

New plan in place. Only checking email twice a day.

Posted by Theresa  | September 23, 2017 at 5:31AM | Reply

Halved the number of times I checked my email. Inbox zero. More relaxed. And even managed to have time over lunch to go for a walk and take some photos. Thanks! I’m aiming to check just twice a day going forwards.

Posted by Valerie  | September 23, 2017 at 4:38AM | Reply

I have a plan now, to make the best use of my day and align it to achieve my priorities, and yet not feel overwhelmed by emails. Feels awesome!

Posted by James  | September 23, 2017 at 2:46AM | Reply

Definitely a good week. Was able to check my email less today, and I love it? I feel liberated!

Posted by Steve Page  | September 23, 2017 at 1:25AM | Reply

So…the challenge is over!
I personally feel I have benefitted, however the next days and weeks will tell if I truly benefitted.
I would say after this week I feel less stressed not checking my email so regularly.
Before this week I would try and eat my frog but always got interrupted with the alerts and chimes of email entering the arena. Naturally the thing was to check, then my day becomes a tad out of control, chasing email after email. Then there are texts to deal with. All my customers get unlimited access to me. Phone calls, emails and now texting.
This week taught me that the email can wait. I believe on day 5 I checked my email 4 times and then at the end of the day I cleared my email inbox…sending lots to my OF inbox…I actually got that to zero too…partly due to the fact I spent less time chasing the next email and the tasks it demanded.

I believe this was a good week!

Posted by Michael  | September 23, 2017 at 1:12AM | Reply

This was a great challenge. I have cut the number of times that I check email in half and unsubscribed from a bunch of promotional emails.

Posted by Kim  | September 23, 2017 at 12:39AM | Reply

This was a really great challenge! I really appreciated all that I’ve learned about my email habits and I learned about email templates. That’s something I’ve never used before and had to learn how to create them in outlook but I really look forward to putting them to use come Monday morning. I definitely checked my email a LOT less than I did when I first tracked it. My personal email wasn’t a big deal – I have pretty much gotten my checking that inbox under control and don’t have FOMO with that one. It’s my work email that is the bigger issue with checking it so often. I set certain times of the day the last couple of days that I would check it much like set up in this article but I can see that I can most likely pair it down even more to just 4x/day. That will be my goal going forward. Thank you!

Posted by Angel F  | September 23, 2017 at 12:23AM | Reply

It has helped with timer to delete non-essential, unsubscribing from others, so when I have a day I do not check email. Like this weekend or next, it makes life easier. Some mail goes to junk mail, I do need but I can easily scan and zero that out too. Wahoo!! Thank you. I want to do Blue print to help with my business.

Posted by Edgar  | September 22, 2017 at 11:59PM | Reply

The way these lessons are structured, it makes it easy to take steps to improve. I have decreased my email time by 3 hours a day. I went from checking 6 times a day, at minimum, down to 2 total. Thanks for the help

Posted by Paul L  | September 22, 2017 at 11:43PM | Reply

I was able to get away with only checking email ~5 times today. I do get well over 80 emails per day, so it was a good target. I’m going to do my best to keep these habits going. Thanks AE!

Posted by Shay  | September 22, 2017 at 9:46PM | Reply

This was a good reminder not to let my impulse to check email because I’m procrastinating on something else. It also helped me to clear up some back logg so I could relax when taking today off for a family event. I was able to stay out of my email all day! I will be trying out the 3x/day schedule starting next week.

Posted by Lynne  | September 22, 2017 at 7:40PM | Reply

Loved this challenge. Twice this week I only ‘processed’ my emails once during the day. It will continue to be a work in progress, but I love the awareness this challenge created!

Posted by edward  | September 22, 2017 at 7:19PM | Reply

I only checked three times today!

Now… unfortunately my boss is obsessed with us all using Slack… so now I need to apply these same skill to my Slack usage… except with Slack there’s the expectation that you will respond in a timely manner. :(

Posted by Janeson  | September 22, 2017 at 7:14PM | Reply

My favorite part of this challenge was developing the email templates. There’s one I know I’ve used 10 times since I developed it. I wasn’t checking my email more than five times a day, but I need to be better about processing everything before I start on the tasks I get. As always, thanks for the great tips and tricks!

Posted by anthony j  | September 22, 2017 at 7:12PM | Reply

i’ve cut back on how much i used to check email but still waste too much time wanting the joy of an interesting email. aiming to check three times today.

Posted by Brenda  | September 22, 2017 at 7:06PM | Reply

Total time that email was engaged on computer was less than before archiving – still a lot of time, but some of it was for purpose of reconstruction of time for billing purposes [unusual and will be part of email processing going forward.]

Posted by Diana  | September 22, 2017 at 6:17PM | Reply

wow, this is awesome. I love how AE actually provides an outline and framework for implementing this challenge. Thanks!

Posted by Susan  | September 22, 2017 at 5:59PM | Reply

This is harder because Outlook also holds my calendar and to-do list, so I have the program open a lot. Thinking about how to set this up differently going forward. Maybe *gasp* printing out my daily calendar and to-dos, so I don’t have to reference the email…

Posted by Tara  | September 22, 2017 at 5:28PM | Reply

This may be the hardest challenge for me yet. I have two phones and way too many emails (I plan to purge this weekend). However, I will be putting into place 5x on the weekdays and 2x on weekend (if necessary -depending on my schedule). I will update on the 26th! Looking forward to the challenge!

Posted by Kenny  | September 22, 2017 at 5:25PM | Reply

I checked email SIGNIFICANTLY less today than when I began. I did feel at times that I may be missing on an important task that may have arrived in my Inbox (hint: I didn’t). I accomplished more meaningful work today without interruptions than I have in a long time.

Posted by Christine N  | September 22, 2017 at 5:25PM | Reply

I checked my email only 5 times today. Thinking of checking email as opening loops is a good way to keep me from looking during “weird time” when I can’t stop and process it. Thanks!

Posted by Peter D  | September 22, 2017 at 5:19PM | Reply

I have reduced the number of times I check my e-mail. I now think of “processing” email rather than “checking” or “reading” e-mail. If I look at my e-mail, I have to be prepared to process it. Thanks for a great challenge.

Posted by Vaughan  | September 22, 2017 at 5:04PM | Reply

I have been overwhelmed by email, but I did this Challenge as a “lark” thinking it would not do that much good for me.

I didn’t think the challenges would make that much difference & seemed to simple, but I did them anyway. No I am glad I did them.

My email time has been cut by 80%, but bear in mind I am not in a corporate environment, but this has been a great help to me.



Posted by Cynthia  | September 22, 2017 at 4:41PM | Reply

Checked my email 5 times yesterday. I can definitely still work on cutting that down since I receive less than 50 emails a day. Work in progress…

Posted by David Mullens  | September 22, 2017 at 4:12PM | Reply

Thanks for the challenge. So far today, I’ve checked my email three times. I noticed something that surprised me. There were a couple of emails I sent, which I really wanted to see the response. I realized one of the reasons I wanted to check was to see those responses. The 3rd time I checked (at 4 pm), I still had not received the responses.

On a normal day, I would have continued to check and check and check, looking for those responses…which never came. Bottom line? I would have wasted all that time.

Thanks for helping me recognize this.

Posted by Antal-Pap Judit  | September 22, 2017 at 4:03PM | Reply

It was a big Challenge for me. I had to realize, that So many “important” mails i will never read. I have to get rid of them and unsubscribe. Now I USE folder s, and archive everything in them. What are really important are usually the frogs that I should eat in the morning. 🐸

Posted by AA  | September 22, 2017 at 3:59PM | Reply

Ok, the target is 3 times per day. Lets see how it goes. I believe it is doable.

Posted by Mat  | September 22, 2017 at 3:41PM | Reply

At first, I laughed this off- I checked email in the morning only once, so I had one to go, right?

by six pm I realized what a challenge this can be- it’s unbelievable how often I am doing this unconsciously- especially on the phone!

I had my second in the early afternoon- and it’s incredibly hard to resist going there again… But I am determined to remain in control.

Thank you for making me painfully aware of this point so I am able to correct it.

Posted by Mark Badeau  | September 22, 2017 at 3:26PM | Reply

I’m going down to 5x a day, with 2 ‘spot checks’ and 3 ‘processing now’ timeframes – one of those processing times being at the end of the day when I’m working the journal / task build for the next day. Had no idea that email was pulling this hard on my time…

Posted by Mike  | September 22, 2017 at 3:26PM | Reply

Scheduled 3, went in around 10. Definitely an improvement.

I need to work on moving reference material out of email as that was the genesis of several interactions.

Posted by Mark  | September 22, 2017 at 3:17PM | Reply

This was a tough one. My work requires Outlook to be running for related apps, so I couldn’t completely close it. I did turn off the notifications which helped to minimize the times I was checking my inbox.

Posted by Toby Carver  | September 22, 2017 at 3:09PM | Reply

I’m in IT and my work is generated via email. I have to look at email, but I don’t need to check it continuously. If I get an email, someone needs something 99.95% of the time. I have, though, looked at it less today. The side to this coin is I have a personal email account. I have checked this account less often as well. So, I think we’re doing good!

Posted by Tim Howell  | September 22, 2017 at 2:35PM | Reply

Twice a day for personal email accounts and three times a day for work (and no looking at work emails out of work – Yay! How liberating)

Posted by Josh Click  | September 22, 2017 at 2:34PM | Reply

This has helped me be more conscious of my email usage. I still check impulsively and often leave mail to sit there, only creating more work for me in the future, but now I have a framework to handle the mail when I do check, which is a big step forward.

Posted by Tim Hauser  | September 22, 2017 at 2:17PM | Reply

I’m giving scheduled checks a shot starting at 5x per day. I think the bigger challenge will be ending the mindless email checks on my phone, especially after hours.

Posted by Isis masoud  | September 22, 2017 at 2:13PM | Reply

This 5 tips definitely created more space for me to do other things over the last few days. The most valuable thing is that it brought and awareness of how much of a time suck it truly is. I had no idea i was spending so much time on email… it feels good to know I can get the same job done in much less time. Thanks for the tips!!

Posted by Jung  | September 22, 2017 at 2:11PM | Reply

The kicker is whether email checking really cuts down your productivity or not–I don’t think it really cause 15 minutes of focus loss to glance at email for a few seconds. I’ve had more time lost because of NOT checking email or missing an email.

But the 2/3/4/5 is a good general guide for most people along with the recommended procedures for Inbox Zero for work. My goal is to be at Inbox Zero more often and faster and work out of the Next Action folder/my paper to do list instead of the Inbox. For work, I check email when I see notification of email on task bar. For personal, I check during breaks. Very different, how I view work and personal emails.

What I dislike is the FOMO not of FUN but of something work related – checking email on iphone includes both work and personal emails and there’s always a sense of dread…but unnecessary dread because I’m not expected to act on any email on non-office days.

So my take away from this challenge is: I have to decide whether to remove or keep my work email on phone.

Posted by KG  | September 22, 2017 at 1:58PM | Reply

Yes, definitely helpful. I realized my email inbox checking is like a nervous habit, not necessary for moving my day forward. I’ve switched things up now, quitting my email after checking, not leaving it open. It’s good to save even 5 minutes a day that translates into 35minutes a week and over a year’s time that’s over 30 hours of time. Thank you!!

Posted by Steve Page  | September 22, 2017 at 1:31PM | Reply

Scary stuff…
I am a project manager for anrestoration firm and really am dependant on email. I am going to turn down the checking to 5 times a day even though i get around 50 serious emails.

So far its 10:30 and i have checked once…about to hitt the in box now and then I am on the road for 3 hours.

But definately a huge step not checking every 15 mins.

Posted by Sam  | September 22, 2017 at 1:17PM | Reply

On day 1, I found I was looking at my phone more than 20 times per day looking to see if there was any important email. I have always been inbox zero, but I flag a number of emails for later follow up on my GTD review days, but this system lately this has been seriously stressed. On Day 2, I reduced my email checks to every three hours and used the time in between just to work on the flagged items and archive them.
Yesterday, I made some email templates and also Textexpander snippets to help create quick replies.
Today, I am inbox zero with no flagged items, as I moved them all into Nozbe (my task manager) or completed the smaller tasks. Thanks, AE!

Posted by Alice Ferris  | September 22, 2017 at 12:57PM | Reply

I am targeting 5 times per day, and so far I’m at four today and feeling like I’m going through withdrawal! :-o Still have some work to do in this area, but I’ll keep at it!

Posted by Ruksana  | September 22, 2017 at 12:56PM | Reply

I am definitely checking less but now need to try the 3 times only for me.. challenge… I do expect this to be difficult as I access emails on my phone..let’s see how I do going forward….

Posted by Donna Woodwell  | September 22, 2017 at 12:29PM | Reply

Yay! I got back to Inbox Zero yesterday. It’s been my state for the last three years, but the past four months have just gone sideways!

I’m going to have to think about how to get on a daily checking routine. Were I just working for myself, I could get by with one check a day.

But since I also work with a team — a team which hasn’t mastered having something like slack yet — we still use email for some things. So some days i can’t work without the file sharing that’s happening.

(lol, there’s a whole new line of thought for you.. “how to manage when the team’s communication needs an upgrade” lol)

But, in the meantime I just like seeing the iPhone “No Mail” graphic again. ;-)

Posted by Anil Agrawal  | September 22, 2017 at 12:22PM | Reply

I check my work emails only 2-3 times/day. Done!

Posted by Anil Agrawal  | September 22, 2017 at 12:21PM | Reply

I use Outlook at work as well, but I keep the calendar view as my default view and work off of it.

I use Jim McCullen’s Control Your Day system for managing my emails in Outlook. Been using for a several years now and still works with the latest version of Outlook and works out great for me.

Posted by Sara  | September 22, 2017 at 12:17PM | Reply

I already had a system where RescueTime tells me that I spend less than 30 mins a day in email, so not a huge change over the week time-wise, but I could definitely cut back on the habit of checking email every time I get the impulse because I’m bored, unfocused or want to procrastinate. Fighting that impulse to just “take a quick look” is astonishingly hard. Thanks for the challenge!

Posted by Jonathan Wheeler  | September 22, 2017 at 12:15PM | Reply

Just checked email now. Planning to check one more time on my way home from work tonight.

Posted by Mhodges  | September 22, 2017 at 12:12PM | Reply

Many thanks for nudging us to self control, not be controlled by others. So simple, yet NOT.

I now have much more time to really learn to use HAZEL, TextExpander and to manage my digital images! I love it!!!


Posted by Tuvshinzaya Amarzaya  | September 22, 2017 at 12:05PM | Reply

I have implemented the system of checking my email only twice daily (mostly successful due to turning off gmail notifications on my laptop AND phone). I check at 9am in the morning and 9pm in the evening (I found that it worked better for my student schedule). I try to reply to all necessary emails within one pomodoro each time when I open my inbox – and if I received fewer emails and I have time left on my pomodoro – I use it as a free time!

I really like it so far – I feel like I get so much more time in the day, and world have not imploded yet. I also tried writing emails in one breath (hack from Duhigg’s Habit book) and it is really fun! I would encourage everyone to give that one a go!

Posted by Carolina  | September 22, 2017 at 11:59AM | Reply

Goal: check mail in the morning and in the evening only.

Posted by Oren  | September 22, 2017 at 11:39AM | Reply

Goal: work email twice

Posted by Teejay  | September 22, 2017 at 11:02AM | Reply

Just processing my inbox to zero has made me check less often. I found myself not even thinking about my inbox. I knew I’d processed what was there and was taking care of (or had delegated) something that needed attention.

I LOVE the idea of only checking a few times per day. I’m going to push and shoot for the three times per day and set little reminders.

Posted by DivaJo  | September 22, 2017 at 11:01AM | Reply

I check at 7am to id any overnight changes (& read Asian Efficiency!) and latest news, at 11am prior to meetings for changes to schedule, 5pm for end of day stuff. Each time I archive, delete, or schedule. I have set a target to eliminate half my newsletters. Vacation coming up, no internet access for 3 weeks (!) so airport layover I will start all over, although I plan to unsubscribe to most newsletters before I leave.

Posted by Laura  | September 22, 2017 at 10:48AM | Reply

I’m improving! I do get over 80 emails daily so I am attempting to get to 5x per day or less but I know I checked more than that today. Trying to stay focused on the tasks at hand & reduce my email time. Tackling it in 30 minute increments cleans it up rather nicely. Thanks for this!

Posted by sam  | September 22, 2017 at 10:47AM | Reply

Yes, but it is a fight. It definitely is a time eater. I am one of those who checked 100 times a day. Open on my screen, wanting to be responsive. Crazy.

Posted by Sharon  | September 22, 2017 at 10:44AM | Reply

Thank you gentlemen for some great insight. I still have prior emails to clean up, but I am working currently with much greater progress on keeping my inbox less than it’s current 10,000!

I also plan to set my alarm to check my email 4 times a day. I actually do feel it’s important to respond to my clients on a timely fashion and at times need to respond within the hour, when possible due to ongoing board meetings etc. However, I do think I can schedule my check in’s so I don’t just always check. Will be looking into your upcoming class on Escaping Your Email … determined to organize the influx of info and stay on top of my to do list so nothing gets overlooked.
I do have a smile on my face!

Posted by Tyler  | September 22, 2017 at 10:38AM | Reply

I am checking it almost half of what I was; still room for improvement, but love the tips. Thanks!

Posted by Luisa Frias  | September 22, 2017 at 10:38AM | Reply

YES, Inbox Zero!!!! Now that my email is on a diet, I’m planning on using all the excess time I have now acquired to forget about FOMO and do my own thing. Thanks for the challenge, Day 4 was my favorite! xx

Posted by Sonya  | September 22, 2017 at 10:36AM | Reply

I’ve set a reminder in my calendar for 10 business days to check email at 8:30, 11:00, 1:00 and 4:00…. I am challenging myself not to check email unless I have the reminder….

Posted by Sonya  | September 22, 2017 at 10:30AM | Reply

Thank you for your help this week. Unfortunately I am in the 80+ per day category. I am going to set the times and try to close it the rest of the day. I agree with Randall above that it will be difficult because other tasks take me back to my inbox quite often. I do need to do something about newsletters as you mentioned above because they can really draw me in and waste valuable production time. Setting a 30 minute timer this week has encourage me to just hit delete a lot more than usual. Thanks again!

Posted by Yanesh Tyagi  | September 22, 2017 at 10:29AM | Reply

The way it works for me is: an email comes, a notification pops up, I look at the sender, subject and initial sentence:

– It require your immediate attention -> go read the email
– It can be answered under two minutes -> answer it
– It’s not required to take an action at this time -> ignore or close notification. And then process the unprocessed emails, I follow GTD.

Posted by Deirdre S  | September 22, 2017 at 10:27AM | Reply

I have a problem, definitely addicted to checking email. I get 100s of emails a day and I check far too frequently. I used an app called focus yesterday which did not allow me to open my email client. Today I have scheduled my 5x email check in my calendar. I will keep my email client closed until those times. I had already removed notifications of my emails but that was not enough to stop me for checking. Amazingly hard!

Posted by Eric  | September 22, 2017 at 10:25AM | Reply

This is definitely the hardest for me. I typically keep my email app (Newton) open in the background all day long while I’m working and find myself mindlessly switching over to see if I have any new emails (I’ve turned all notifications off). I’m going to have to work hard to keep it closed except at designated times.

Posted by Alexander Malmström  | September 22, 2017 at 9:43AM | Reply

Thank you guys for this weeks challenge. It is almost like I fool my self into believing that I don’t use my email that much when I actually do.

I’ve set up a 3 time checkin at 10, 13 and 16 in my calendar from now on and will see where it gets me.

Thanks for clearing my mind.

Posted by Randall Million  | September 22, 2017 at 8:30AM | Reply

Our corporate solution is MS Outlook. And though I have turned off reminders, I still get caught in my inbox because I use the calendar function and need to be able to search my sent mail and archive for reference data.

How can I work within this process to keep Outlook open, but avoid coming across my inbox?

Posted by Katie  | September 22, 2017 at 8:00AM | Reply

I actually counted how many times I checked email today and it was just over half the number of times I did on the first day. My ultimate goal is to get it down to 3 times a day! Timers set!

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