How Much Time is Spent On Email at Work?

Holly Stanley
by Holly Stanley

It’s Monday 9 AM. You have a coffee in hand, ready to tackle the day. You open your laptop and bam! Your inbox looks like it threw a wild party over the weekend.

Average time to write an email

There you are, navigating the sea of emails, replying, deleting, flagging––the whole shebang. Before you know it, it's lunchtime, and you're wondering, ‘Where did half my day just go?’

Welcome to the world of email overload, where spending hours on emails feels like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

But here's the kicker––email doesn't have to be the black hole of your workday. With a few smart strategies, you can turn the tide and have enough time left for your most important tasks.

In this article, we’ll share how you can reclaim your time from the clutches of the relentless inbox.

What is the average time to write an email?

The average time to write an email is around five minutes. This time depends on factors including the email's complexity and the writer's skill. The purpose of the email, the need for research, and the level of detail required also influence the time taken.

Research by OnePoll and Slack shows that the average employee drafts an average of 112 emails a week, spending just over five-and-a-half minutes on each. That amounts to around eleven hours a week writing work emails.

What is the average time spent on email per day?

The average person spends just under two hours per day checking and responding to emails. That's a big chunk of the workday. It's surprising how quickly those quick email checks add up, turning into a significant part of our daily routine.

According to a study from Microsoft, office workers can spend up to 8.8 hours a week on email, or just under two hours per day. Imagine two hours––that's like watching a movie or cooking a fancy dinner! And it's not just typing out responses; it involves sorting through the inbox, reading through email threads, and sometimes, getting lost in the email rabbit hole. This number can even shoot up for those in roles heavy on communication or management.

What factors affect email writing time?

Ever wondered why some long emails take just a minute to whip up, while other shorter emails have you staring at your screen for an eternity? It turns out, the time it takes to craft that perfect email isn't just about your typing speed or email length.

From the complexity of your message to who's on the receiving end, a variety of elements come into play:

  • Purpose and content complexity: The more complex the subject matter, the longer it typically takes to compose an email. For instance, an in-depth email detailing a project plan or presenting a proposal requires more time than a simple follow-up.
  • Research and reference requirements: If the email requires referencing data, facts, or external sources, additional time is needed for research and ensuring accuracy.
  • Personal writing skills: Individuals with strong writing skills spend less time composing emails.
  • Distractions and multitasking: Frequent interruptions or multitasking during email composition can prolong the process, as refocusing takes time.
  • Format: Types of emails requiring a specific format, like reports or formal requests, take longer to organize and write compared to informal, free-form emails.
  • Attachment and supplementary material inclusion: Preparing and attaching documents, images, or other files can add to the overall time spent on an email.
  • Review and editing: The need for careful proofreading and editing, especially for critical communications, can add to the time spent on email writing.

How to spend less time on email

The secret to breaking free from the endless cycle of send and receive lies in a few clever strategies. You need to work smarter, not harder when managing your digital correspondence.

Here are six tips to make email work for you, not against you.

1. Set specific times for email checking

Ah, the ping of an inbox notification––it’s irresistible. But you don't have to be at its beck and call. Imagine if you checked your mailbox on the street every five minutes; it would be excessive, but that's what constant email checking is like.

So here's what I do:

I set specific times for diving into my emails. Once in the morning, post-lunch, and an hour before I call it a day. It's like having appointments with my inbox.

This way, I'm not a slave to every ‘ping’ and can focus on my work.

As a result, my productivity shot up, and the world didn't end because I didn't reply to an email in nanoseconds. So give it a try––schedule mini-email dates, and you may find yourself getting more done (and maybe even enjoying a peaceful coffee without the constant pings).

2. Use templates and canned responses

Have you ever felt like you're typing the same email for the millionth time? It's like déjà vu but with your keyboard. My lifesavers are templates and canned responses. I used to spend ages crafting responses to the usual ‘Can you send me the report?’ or ‘What's the status of our project?’

Then, a friend introduced me to the magic of email templates. It was like finding a secret shortcut in a maze. Now, I have several pre-written responses for these common queries. It's like having a personal assistant who knows exactly what to say. Just a couple of clicks, and voilà, the email is done.

Insert a response by typing the # character anywhere in the draft.

3. Prioritize your emails

Ever feel like every email is shouting ‘urgent’ at you? I used to think the same until I realized it's all about prioritizing. Not all emails are born equal.

Sorting emails is similar to creating a VIP list for a party. The high-priority ones–– urgent client queries – they're on the A-list and get the first pass. The less critical messages, like email newsletters and FYI emails, they're like party crashers; they  can wait. This way, I tackle the urgent messages first and don't get bogged down by the small fry.

4. Leverage email tools and extensions

My email secret weapons are tools and extensions. I used to think I could manage my inbox with sheer willpower. Spoiler alert: I couldn't. But then, I discovered these little helpers.

Take the Missive app, for instance. It's like having a super assistant for your email. You can snooze emails (so they pop back up when you're ready to deal with them), block read trackers, create and save canned responses, and even collaborate with your team in the app. It's like turning your inbox into mission control.

Need more convincing? Sarah Hum, the co-founder of the feedback management tool Canny, says:

Missive helps our team make sure emails are handled quickly and effortlessly.

5. Use AI to streamline your workflow  

AI integrations can be a game changer in improving your email workflow. The AI understands the context of your conversation and suggests relevant replies, making you an email speed demon.

Translating emails can feel like a chore. Well, not anymore. Missive's AI integration can translate messages, so you're basically a multilingual wizard now without the hassle of toggling between email and translation apps.

The best part is it’s customizable. You can use the ‘Prompt’ feature to guide the AI, making your emails spot-on every time. Plus, setting it up is a breeze––just get an OpenAI account, generate an API key, and you're set to integrate AI into your Missive experience.

You can save your most-used prompts, making repetitive tasks a walk in the park. So, whether it's fixing grammar, changing the tone, or even translating––it's all at your fingertips. The AI assistant can also craft custom email replies automatically based on your saved canned responses.

6. Use filters and folders

Ever felt like you're on a never-ending scavenger hunt trying to find that one important email buried under a mountain of others? Well, filters and folders are your treasure map. I started using them, and it's like night and day. Setting up filters is like having a personal assistant who knows exactly where everything should go.

I remember the time I was looking for an urgent contract email amidst a sea of newsletters. I was searching for the word ‘contract’ in the subject line, and it was like finding a needle in a haystack. But then, I created a ‘Contracts’ folder and set up a filter to send all contract-related emails there. The next time I needed one, it was right there waiting for me, no digging required.

Labels are similar to post-it notes for your emails. Label it, and you'll find it in a second.

Missive HQ Location
You can open this menu with a keyboard shortcut: Command + Shift + L

Improve your inbox management and save eight hours each week 

Taming your inbox isn’t a pipe dream, it’s totally doable. With the right tools and know-how, incoming emails won’t take over your workday. It’s simply a case of setting dedicated times for email checks, using AI-powered email tools, and creating an organized filters and labels system.

So don’t be another employee slogging through 2 hours of daily inbox management. Instead, take advantage of an email tool and optimize your inbox management using the strategies we explored. You’ll then have more time for your most important tasks.

Holly Stanley

Holly Stanley is a freelance B2B SaaS writer. She specializes in writing long-form blog posts, customer stories, and thought leadership. You can read her articles on Clearscope, Hootsuite, Shopify, Vimeo, and more.
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