Checking email for 5+ hours daily

Cal Newport on a recent Adobe survey:

… self-reported time spent checking work email has decreased slightly to 3.1 hours per weekday on average. By contrast, the average time spent checking personal email has increased by almost 20% to 2.5 hours per weekday.

Combined: the average daily time spent checking email is now 5.6 hours — up almost a half hour since 2017. …

No one doubts the reality that it’s more efficient to hit “send” than to print a memo or mail a letter, but as observations like the above become more extreme, the claim that email is a straightforward productivity booster has become increasingly indefensible — the dynamics at play are more complex and decidedly dire.

We cannot, in other words, escape the necessity to radically rethink how we work in the age of computer networks.

A metaphor from many years ago that’s stuck with me is the need to balance “vertical” and “horizontal” priorities. The majority of priorities will be spread horizontally, across many different areas of focus requiring many different bits of attention and circling back. But the priorities likely to have the highest impact are often “vertical” priorities, requiring lots of sustained focus and real depth in how one attends to and executes those priorities.