Why You Need To Stop Checking Your Emails [Infographic]

As we have argued in the past, email is not the problem – we are. And it’s not just the productivity drain or the antisocial effects of constantly checking our phones and computers for new messages.

There are psychological ramifications too. By constantly looking for new information and tasks from other people, we are degrading the importance of the things we want and need to do. This flowchart explains what you’re doing wrong – and how to fix it.

Chances are you’ve got a few tasks you plan to complete during the day, ranging from pieces of a project at the office to folding laundry at home. When you stop what you’re doing to look at your email, you’re putting a priority on what other people want from you. You’re making the tasks in your life less important by constantly checking to find out what everyone else needs. This issue is at the root of why email can kill your productivity when you don’t use it correctly.

As a guide, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton put together this flow chart to help you decide when you should check your email. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a funny way of looking at the problem (with some occasional practical advice for good measure).

When it comes down to the office, however, getting yourself on a 30-minute email cycle is generally a good solution if you’re currently an over-checker. It isn’t too frequent that you’re going to be too distracted from your work and isn’t so infrequent that you’ll miss anything important.


Click to enlarge.

[Via Swissmiss]


  • Who actually “checks” their email any more? Most people have push notifications that tell them when they have new mail, so they never have to check manually.

  • I think that’s part of the problem Max. If you get a decent number of emails in a day (say over 50) then push notifications are going off every few minutes. That kind of distraction prevents you getting other things done.

  • The flowchart is broken. The only way to get to “Check” is to be a jerk or check your mail every three minutes or less. I know it’s tongue in cheek, but it would actually be useful if it were only slightly more realistic, specifically having a “Check” somewhere below ‘Are You At Work = Yes’.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!