E-mail is killing your productivity

Note: This is an excerpt from Growth & Productivity: 14 Principles to Achieve More, a free e-book from Grove Ave, a new startup that helps individuals focus on their growth. Click here to get your free download of the 70+ page e-book.

Communication is the lifeblood of many knowledge industries. Efficient communications are doubly powerful: people are more likely to read your messages and you’ll be less likely to have misunderstandings which require time to fix. One rule of thumb I subscribe to is that before I send an email, I think about whether or not the message that is being delivered will result in more than one response. I try to deliver one message via email, but if I think the message or subject is going to require delivering more than two follow-up emails, I will email to schedule a phone call instead. Similarly, if we’re going to have a phone conference, I always demand an agenda or generate one ahead of time, so that we don’t wind up just spending a lot of time meandering from one point to another. I also try to limit all phone conferences to 30 minutes and always an hour, max. If a call or meeting lasts longer than that, you haven’t properly prepped for it.

Being efficient with email is a huge challenge. But consider this paradox: how many people do you know who complain about getting too many emails? It turns out that these people are likely causing their own email problems. People who generally get a lot of emails are also the ones who send a lot of emails, which engenders responses that require subsequent email communications. You can spend your entire day writing email and be extremely unproductive as a result. I probably receive 100 non-spammy non-marketing emails a day. Guess what? I try to limit my responses and I try to send only 10 emails a day. It has really helped me cut down on emails, which now only take up about ¼ of my online time per day. It used to be closer to half!

One tip for being more efficient with your communications is to employ the one-touch rule. Don’t tackle an email or communication until you’re ready to fully commit your attention to it. If you aren’t, you’ll likely have to explain yourself in greater detail which forces you to re-engage on something you could have crossed off your list the first time around.


  • If you don’t want to receive a lot of emails, don’t send a lot of emails
  • Pick up the phone

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