One of the most important communication tools became one of the biggest distractions in the office. Regardless whether you use it for communicating with your colleagues, finding potential customers or scheduling meetings, reading and writing email seems like a productive thing to do. But the truth is, it’s not.

It is a very dull activity. Your brain needs minimum focus, just to process the information and separate important from unimportant stuff. However, it is very addictive. You often decide to go for a quick check, not to spend much time, just to warm up for the productive mood. You think you can quit whenever you want. Before you know it, you are drowning in your own little email world, reading one after the other, promising yourself that this one is the last one.

How does this affect our productivity?

Even if you are not a morning person, your brain is in its most productive stage 2 or 3 hours after waking up. The second peak of productivity appears just before the lunch break.

So why do we keep wasting our good energy on this undemanding activity? Here are two main reasons: habit or procrastination. People are used to reading emails first thing in the morning because they’ve seen everybody else doing it, because they are afraid they might miss important information or because it is the easiest thing to do. They also might not want to face the challenging tasks just yet, so they turn to emails to create an illusion of being busy.

Here are 5 tips on how to maximize your productivity by not wasting time on emails:

  1. Do the most demanding task first. – Every morning, when you come to the office, ask yourself what is going to be the toughest task that day and jump right onto it. It will boost you with energy and give you the superior feeling. When you become a bit distracted, have a quick break to read your emails. Changing activities will help you regain your focus, and since you are already in your productive mood, you will be done with emails more efficiently.
  2. Use email apps. – Almost everyone in corporate world nowadays has a smartphone. Take advantage of it and read your emails from your cell phone the moment they arrive. That way, when you log in from your computer to do some “serious business”, you won’t have thousands of random emails waiting to be read.
  3. Filter your emails. – Every emailing platform has an option to filter your mail by some criteria or keywords. Find out how the service you use works, and use labels for different types of emails. That way, you could easily search and move through your inbox.
  4. Unsubscribe. – The chances are that you are receiving emails you don’t need. Unsubscribe from as many subscriber lists as possible, and ask your colleagues to remove you from lists that don’t affect you in any way.
  5. Call a person– We all know that someone who writes emails with a word count close to average 19th-century Russian novelist. If they also like to argue via emails, it can get super fun. Do not get involved in such discussions. Business is done in person, and if it’s not an option, use a telephone or arrange a conference call. Use emails for minor discussions or just to confirm what you agreed on.

Using these tips is a great way to start taking back the day and boosting your productivity. Try each of them and see what’s working for you and what’s not, in order to really impact your office habits.