When is the last time you met someone who doesn’t own or use a cell phone? It’s a rare thing now days. In fact, cell phones have almost become another appendage on our bodies.

If we misplace our cell phones we panic wondering where we had it last and what we did with it. But why do we act this way? It isn’t as though our very lives depend on them.

The reason we get so agitated is because we have gotten reliant on them. For example, we use them to stay connected through social media, keep track of our schedules, and send emails.

But our dependence on email is very similar to our dependence on our cell phones. Many people immediately stop whatever they are doing so they can check their email whenever they hear the chime of a notification.

Therefore, are emails killing your productivity?

Here are a few signs that you might have a problem with checking your email.

They Make You Stressed

Many people read, create, and respond to emails at almost all hours of the day rather than just at work. This can prevent them from truly disconnecting from work so they can take a break during off hours.

As a result, workers may be more tired as well as more stressed once they come back to work. In addition, they constantly worry that they are not opening and responding to their emails quickly enough. This may be due, in part, to not wanting to look bad or appear lazy to demanding bosses.

But all this stress makes it difficult to stay on track with your other work. You may lose focus and not get projects completed as quickly as you otherwise would.

They Interrupt Other Important Tasks

Emails also interrupt other important tasks you might be working on. If you have a deadline this can be not only annoying but damaging to your job standing.

When you can’t get your work done you could end up being reprimanded, put on probation, suspended or even fired as a result.

They Prevent You from Getting in a Routine

Creating a routine in your day helps you speed through tasks that don’t require as much time or concentration. This allows you to spend more time doing those things that need more attention.

But if you are constantly stopping to check your email it can be hard to get into a routine or get anything done.

They Make it Difficult to Determine an Action Plan

When several people respond to an email it can create long strings of conversation that are difficult to follow. It also makes it hard to figure out what action to take sometimes.

When you can’t figure out what to do next you certainly can’t accomplish as much.

They Cause Long Written Explanations

There are times when you have to get very detailed in an email due to the technical nature of the response or request. When that happens you may end up spending more time composing the email than you should spend.

Some things are better said either in person or over the phone. At times it’s simply faster than typing it all out.

How to Better Manage Your Email

When you first get to work, spend only a few minutes going through your email. Limiting your time on this task may be difficult at first but with practice you will get better at it. If you have a hard time pulling yourself away from your email inbox, set a timer so you know when to stop.

Allow yourself another ten minutes or so on emails midmorning to address anything urgent or new. Check again at lunch, midafternoon, and the end of the day. Using a strategy such as this helps you stay focused on other projects that may be critical or require intense concentration.

Clearly email has its place in the workplace and in society in general. It’s way faster than regular mail and allows the receiver to address issues when they are ready to. But it can also harm productivity.

Avoid these email productivity killers listed above so you can continue to crush it in your work day and stay focused.