Is constant email checking killing our productivity?
Monday, October 29th, 2018

When a new email pops up in your inbox you feel almost compelled to open it, right? It’s likely designed that way. Receiving emails releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in our brains. So we become almost addicted to the reward.

But science tells us that constant email checking can impair our performance at work and drop our IQ by 10 points! Maybe it’s time to silence the inbox and kick constant email checking to the curb. We unpack a few ways to do just that – and ideas for ramping up your productivity too.

1.The intermittent email check

We get that in most jobs it’s not always easy to just ignore emails. But there are ways to manage your time more efficiently.

Set the expectation that you’ll only be checking emails at intervals (like, 9am, midday and 4pm, for example). Think of it like the 5:2 diet for the digital world!

You may get push-back from the boss but wave a bit of research in their face and you’ll convince them in no time. You can’t argue with science! In fact, research into limiting email checking found that those that checked less reported significantly less stress than those that checked more regularly.

2.Multitasking is a myth

If the thought of intermittent email checks makes you break out in a cold sweat, there are other things you can consider to keep stress levels at bay.

Limit interruptions by focusing on one task at a time. Rather than flipping between an email, news article, excel spreadsheet and messenger convo, complete just one task before you move on to the next. You’ll tick a lot more off your to-do list (giving you those happy vibes), rather than straddling multiple projects and taking longer to complete each one.

3.Mute your work BFF

As much as you love her friendship, there are likely times your work wife is one of the biggest productivity killers. When you’re in the zone, getting interrupted can give your productivity a serious blow.

It takes a while to get into whatever you’re working on and if interrupted you’re repeatedly having to get your train of thought back. Add a few of those together and you might have lost an hour or two just getting started.

If you’re close, which you likely are, all it will take is a quick chat asking for a few uninterrupted hours. And then make up for it by catching up over a post-work wine instead! It’s a win-win.


Unless your full-time job is to check, reply and delete emails something has to give. But it’s never too late to make a change. The key is to be clear about your working style from the outset and be strict with your own boundaries. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be on your way to productivity bliss.

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