Frightening Statistics About How Much Time We Spend Checking our Emails

50% of us are waking up with our emails? 28% of our work hours are wasted reading our emails? Statistics show that we spend much more time with our email app than we thought. Have a look at some of the most concerning email statistics we discovered.

  • Over 50% of Americans spend the first minutes of their day checking their emails.
  • The average internet user receives 147 emails daily and spends over two hours on them.
  • It takes 72.3 seconds for a person to respond to an email.
  • People spent 321 minutes per weekday on their email in 2021.
  • Employees spend 28% of their work time on email.
  • About 70% of employees respond within six seconds after receiving an email.
  • After checking the email app, it takes employees 25 minutes to focus entirely on their tasks.
  • We are wasting eight minutes every day on irrelevant emails.

Yes, we might have a problem. If you want to learn more about how much time we spend with our email app and what mistakes we make to waste even more time with it, keep reading.

General Time Spent on Email Statistics

Over 50% of Americans spend the first minutes of their day checking their emails.

An interesting study discovered that one of Americans’ favorite morning activities is checking their email. The study showed that 55% of them will check their email within the first minutes of their morning, while 17% will be even more extreme and check their email the exact moment they wake up. The age group with this habit the most is millennials, with one in three checking their email before properly waking up.

The average internet user receives 147 emails daily and spends over two hours on them.

Research that included five million emails shows that a person receives 147 emails daily and spends over two and a half hours on them. Of those 147 emails, 71 are deleted, an activity that takes a little less than five minutes. The rest are usually opened and read, and some even get a response. Moreover, about twelve of these emails require a lot of work that may take up to 90 minutes daily.

It takes 72.3 seconds for a person to respond to an email.

Spending time on email doesn’t mean only opening, reading, and responding. Other activities are also considered, which may take much of your valuable time, such as archiving or deleting a message. For example, the average person writes an email in about 72.3 seconds. Moreover, they send about 40 emails per day. On the other hand, archiving an email takes 7.3 seconds, while deleting one takes 3.2 seconds. Interestingly, 80% of the emails are deleted in under three seconds.

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It takes people longer to write an email that will be sent immediately than later.

As we already learned, it takes about 72 seconds to write a response to an email. That said, an interesting discovery from Baydin shows that people are faster when writing an email that will be sent in the future. They are writing these messages in 63.6 seconds. The reason could be that people are more nervous before hitting the send button, so they reread their message to ensure everything is in order. On the other hand, the messages that are planned to be sent in the future are rough drafts that will most probably be edited later.

People spent 321 minutes per weekday on their email in 2021.

According to a 2021 Adobe study, people spent 149 minutes checking their work email and 172 minutes checking their personal email every weekday. Interestingly, these numbers are significantly lower than their time on their emails in 2016. Back then, people spent 256 minutes checking their work email and 209 minutes checking their personal emails every weekday, which would be 465 minutes or 113 minutes more than they do today.

Even more intriguing is that while the time spent on work email is continuously dropping each year, the time spent on personal email has jumped from 2020, when it hit an all-time low. In 2020, people spent barely 113 minutes per day on their personal emails (202 on their work emails) compared to 2021, when the time spent on personal emails surpassed work emails. This shift may be due to the new hybrid and remote work methods dominating the business world.

Time spent on personal Vs work emails

Time spent on work emails

Employees spend 28% of their work time on email.

An average employee seems to spend almost a third of their work time opening, reading and responding to emails. That means that most people are wasting valuable time on their email, which can be spent on more pressing matters. Moreover, since each interruption leads to additional wasted time while the employee tries to focus on their task again, their time on their email is much longer than previously thought.

Many employees are actively checking their business email outside of work hours.

A similar Adobe survey from 2019 shows us that many people have the habit of checking their work emails even when they are not at work. The highest percentage of employees (43%) check their work email every few hours until they go to sleep. Of those, 13% check their emails while still in bed, 15% while traveling to work, and 25% while eating breakfast. Lastly, over 50% of employees aged 55 to 73 check their work email while on vacation.

Here are all the percentages about checking work emails after work hours:

  • 43% check their work email every few hours
  • 24% never check their work email
  • 13% check their email multiple times per hour
  • 13% check their email every hour
  • 13% check their email constantly

Habits of checking emails

Obsessively checking your email can waste 21 minutes every day.

As we already learned, about 13% of employees constantly check their emails regardless of where they are. While that may not seem like a significant number, it can still cause many issues for many people. For example, if you constantly check your emails, you can waste up to 21 minutes daily. It’s true that at some point, you will open it the second an email arrives, but more often than not, you will open your app, and there will be nothing new. Open it enough times, and 21 minutes of your day are wasted. Moreover, most employees check their emails every 37 minutes, about 15 times daily. Since most clients and companies expect a response in less than an hour, half of the time the email app is opened is unnecessary and only wastes your time.

About 70% of employees respond within six seconds after receiving an email.

It takes about six seconds for most employees to read and respond to their emails. Almost 85% respond within two minutes. We already know that an average employee sends and receives about 121 business emails daily. That means that if employees get an above-average number of emails, no matter how fast they can respond, they will still spend almost half a workday on their email. Even for an average number of received emails, a lot of time is wasted by continuous interruptions by the email app.

After checking the email app, it takes employees 25 minutes to focus entirely on their tasks.

As we already mentioned, the time spent on email affects employees more than what is believed. After being interrupted by their email notification, which happens every 10 minutes and a total of 56 times daily, they need an additional 25 minutes to return to their focused state. That would be about two more hours from the work day wasted. So in total, almost half of your workday will be consumed because of the time you spend on email.

Almost 85% of employees never close their email apps.

For 84% of the employees, the time spent on email is much longer. Even though they are not actively checking, reading, or responding, their email apps are always open in the background while they are working. That can lead to even more distraction than those who keep their emails closed. That said, 64% of employees close their email apps after reading or responding and rely on notifications to open them back.

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Most used devices to check emails

The iPhone is the most used device to open emails.

According to Litmus research, the Apple iPhone is the most used device to open, read and respond to emails. According to the data, 38.9% of all opened emails globally in the first quarter of 2021 happened on the iPhone. What about Google’s Gmail? You are mistaken if you thought Gmail would be in the lead. But it is in second place with 27.2% of all open emails, above Apple Mail (11.5%).

Here are the other popular email clients and their success in helping their users spend time on their emails:

  • Outlook: 7.8%
  • Yahoo! Mail: 5.4%
  • Google Android: 1.5%
  • Apple iPad: 1.4%
  • Samsung Mail: 1.2%
  • Outlook.com: 0.9%
  • Outlook Mobile: 0.2%

Time spent on irrelevant emails and organizing inbox

On average, a person spends 15-20 seconds reading “permission mailers.”

Permission mailers, such as a newsletter, take over four minutes of our time in the day. While only 20% of all people that receive these emails are opening and reading them, it’s still a lot of time wasted. Even if you want to delete an email such as this one without reading it, it will take about 3.2 seconds of your time, reaching over three minutes per day. So maybe it’s time to unsubscribe?

A full inbox can take up to half an hour of your day.

Believe it or not, full inboxes can waste 27 minutes of your day. Why? Because it seems that we are rereading a lot of emails while looking for the one we need. The search feature of all email apps is more than enough to narrow it down to what we need the most. But that will still not stop us from repeatedly looking at some emails.

Let’s look at it this way. On average, an employee has over 200 emails in their inbox and receives over 120 new ones daily. Of those, only 25% will get a response. That means we are going through 65% of all emails multiple times, even though we never plan on responding. That is a lot of wasted time.

Time spent on irrelevant emails and organizing inbox

Organizing your emails with folders will take 14 minutes of your work day.

Searching for your emails in folders will take less time than searching for the emails you need directly from your full inbox. That said, archiving emails into more than two folders with your mouse will waste an additional 11 minutes of your work day. According to a few researchers from the Palo Alto Research Center, people spend too much time deciding which messages to keep and in which folder they need to go. If you have only two folders (an Archive folder for emails requiring further action and a Reading folder for emails that will be read later), you will save much more time in the day.

With all that in mind, searching in folders is also about 9% slower than searching with keywords and 50% slower than searching with familiar operators. So, a clean and well-organized inbox with a few folders may be the best way to save some time.

We are wasting eight minutes every day on irrelevant emails.

It’s not a secret that our inboxes are filled with irrelevant emails and that our lives would be much easier if we simply unsubscribe from most of them. If we unsubscribe from irrelevant emails, we can save up to eight minutes of our days that we waste reading and processing those emails. Even by deleting them without opening them, we waste about three seconds per email or three minutes per day, so it’s best to unsubscribe to save time.

People spend about three seconds less reading brand emails than in 2018.

According to a 2021 report, people spend 3.4 seconds less reading brand emails. In 2018 reading such emails reached its peak at an average of 13.4 seconds reading time. Afterward, people started spending less time reading these emails. In 2020 the average reading time was 11.8 seconds, while in 2021, it reached 10 seconds. Even in 2011, the numbers were higher, with an average reading time of 10.4 seconds per brand email.

Most opened and read emails were sent between 9 am and 12 pm.

If you want to ensure a higher chance for your email to be read, we recommend sending it sometime between 9 am and 12 pm. The peak for opening and reading emails happens between 10 am and 11 am local time. That also means that most people spend the most time on email in the mornings.

According to a Litmus report, this trend is slightly different between the US, Canada, and Europe. For example, in the US and Canada, most emails are read in the early mornings, and fewer people open them as the day passes. On the other hand, in Europe, most emails are open throughout the entire work day, with a slight drop in frequency during lunchtime. After working hours, fewer people open and read their emails.

70% of mobile users will delete poorly formatted messages in less than three seconds.

It takes less than three seconds for a mobile user to notice that an email is not optimized for mobile and delete it. 70% of mobile users do exactly that. Furthermore, over 22% of them will immediately unsubscribe if the email format doesn’t look good on their mobile device. Again, it takes them only a few seconds for this activity.

Sources: SleepAdvisor, Baydin, Adobe, McKinsey, Adobe, HBR, Campaign Monitor, Litmus, SuperOffice, UCSC, LTI, SaneBox, Litmus, Adestra

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