By Patti Rowlson

A business peer once mentioned that they received more than a hundred emails a day and that they hit the delete button on most of them.

Some of the emails came from blogs they had subscribed to in recent years. The content was no longer valuable so they didn’t make the time to read it. Delete.

Another set had come from networking contacts who had added their email address to eNews publications without permission. They didn’t want to offend that contact by unsubscribing from their emails. Delete.

Purchasing products online using a work email address (instead of a personal email address) had led to even more emails. Now sales-related emails show up all the time from those merchants and other companies they didn’t even buy from. Delete, delete, delete.

Every day was a process of receive, scan, delete and repeat—this will sound familiar to many of you.

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Sorting through unwanted emails is a huge waste of time, even if you’re just scanning the sender’s name, email subject line and then hitting the delete button. It’s a task that distracts or delays us all from taking care of meaningful activities every day.

Recapture valuable time by taming your email inbox.

Say it takes about 30 minutes to filter through and delete a hundred emails Monday through Friday—that’s 2.5 hours every work week or 10 hours per month that could be spent on more productive tasks. Stop and think about that. There is an opportunity to re-capture approximately 10 hours of time each month by simply taming your email inbox. Sounds great, right?

You may be surprised to hear this advice from me, a local marketing consultant who encourages small business owners to use digital media, blogging and email marketing to reach their target audiences, but here goes.

I’m suggesting that you spend 10 minutes per day for one month cleaning up your inbox—address them as they land in your inbox.

Turn off non-essential social media notifications and unsubscribe from eNews, blogs and marketing emails you no longer find value in. You know, all those emails that you delete every time they hit your inbox.

The goal is to decrease distractions, increase efficiency and reclaim extra time in your week for productive tasks—like business development and marketing, for example.

Here are three simple tips for taming your inbox:

  • Unsubscribe from all eNews content and blog articles that you rarely read. Be honest with yourself—do you ever read the information or do you always intend to but never get around to it? Simply scroll to the bottom of each newsletter/blog email and click the “Unsubscribe” link. Know that you can always visit the author’s website to read their news and tips, and that task can be done at a time that is convenient to you.
  • Turn off all email notifications from retail stores that you buy from online, OR have those emails sent to a personal email account instead of your business email account. Scroll to the bottom of each email to look for an “Unsubscribe” option or log into your account with those merchants and change contact preferences in your user profile. Also un-check any boxes that give permission for the merchant’s third-party friends to send you emails. Keep in mind that every time merchants send you emails at work, handling them is getting in the way of you doing real work for your business.
  • Adjust notification settings on social media profiles. Stop receiving an email every time someone likes a photo or favorites a tweet—check out “Settings” and “Email Notifications” on your social sites. Turning off email notifications does not mean that you won’t know when activity happens on your account (you’ll still see notification flags or icons each time you log onto those social sites), it just means you won’t receive an email telling you there was activity on the profile.

Over the course of a month, using these three simple tips will greatly reduce the number of unwanted emails received at work so you can be more focused on productive tasks. Imagine that!

So, what will you do with 10 more hours each month? How about attending networking events, writing blog articles for your company website, making sales calls or even interacting with consumers on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Maybe, by eliminating some email “noise,” you’ll carve out more time to spend with friends or family. The options are limitless, and the choice is yours.

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