Get All Access for $5/mo

The 4 Biggest Inbox Enemies in the Workplace Our relationship with our inbox at the workplace is impacted by inbox enemies, or everyday email habits that increase the time we spend with our inbox and decrease our overall workplace productivity.

By Ravin Carr

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A recent study by Kelton Global found that 92 percent of Americans spend 90 minutes, on average, with their inbox every day.

Our relationship with our inbox at the workplace is impacted by what I call, inbox enemies, or everyday email habits that increase the time we spend with our inbox and decrease our overall workplace productivity.

Here are the four enemies, you -- and your inbox -- need to know about, as well as fixes.

Related: 3 More Examples of Bad Email Manners

1. Pursuit of inbox zero

The holy grail of most professionals' email lives is achieving and maintaining a clean and lean inbox. Our fascination with cleaning out our inbox has spawned many products and apps, including the popular social phrase "#InboxZero."

Your inbox is not your task list. It can add to or influence your daily to-do list, but to use it as a task management tool is not wise. We spend time moving "completed" messages out of our inbox and once they are out, we spend more time looking for these messages when we need them at a later date. How can you conquer your inbox? Utilize easy to use task management tools (especially mobile apps) that allow you to manage your emails better and leave your messages in the inbox.

Related: 40 Email Subject Lines Research Shows Your Subscribers Can't Resist

2. OCOD (Obsessive Compulsive Organization Disorder)

Folks exhibiting OCOD are addicted to folders. We organize emails in folders because we deal with large numbers of messages and we are petrified of not being able to find one (or find it quickly) when we need it.

While folders work well for items that can be put in a single bucket and NOT in any other, email messages on the other hand are seldom mutually exclusive. An email that gets put in the "boss" folder may fit better in a "topic" folder. Most emails from team members, could fit into any number of folders depending on current tasks or work priorities. Result? In addition to the time spent organizing messages into folders, we waste time figuring out which folder an email is in. Use your email client's native search capabilities instead or use an intelligent and easy-to-use search tool.

3. The notification ping

Think about this: How many times a day do you switch your attention to email as soon as you hear the alert on your phone, tablet or computer? This is actually a very natural human response, as humans tend to exhibit excitement or heightened interest in the unknown.

Turn notifications off while you are focused on an important task, or better yet, try closing your email client or application. You will complete your work more efficiently and your email will be waiting for you when you are finished. Afraid you might miss something important? Use prioritization rules when you come back to your email to help isolate critical messages.

4. The collision of personal and professional email

Sometimes our professional and personal email worlds collide. For example, you may email a friend from your personal email address for work related advice. Or you may find it convenient to use your personal email account (rather than your work email account) to send emails via your phone for quick and easier access. Such exchanges could easily compromise intellectual property, information security policies and even compliance regulations.

Separate these two email worlds ruthlessly. All emails with work related content should stay in your work email account.

Related: The Simple Email Trick That Makes Following Up Effective

Ravin Carr

Chief Commercial Officer at GBS

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.