How To Do Email In Just 30 Minutes A Day

This one is going to be hard to swallow, perhaps.

I could give you the answer in one short sentence.

In fact, I will. But I don't feel I can do it without preamble, or else you may be tempted to take it merely as a joke, or dismiss it out right.

So please understand me when I say my advice on this subject is quite serious. And please believe me when I also say that the answer to your e-mail problem is deceptively simple.

You will, no doubt be skeptical about my solution. All I ask is that you are at least open to it.

I'm not asking you to believe me, I am simply asking you to suspend your disbelief until you have tried it.

Okay, here is how to do your e-mail in just 30 minutes a day…

When you open your e-mail program, set a timer for 30 minutes, and when the timer expires, you are done with e-mail for the day.

That's it. There's nothing else.

The timer will force you to be efficient, to keep your responses short, and to respond only to e-mails worthy of a response. The timer will force you to discard all junk mail, all entertaining-but-unproductive e-mail, and it will force you to be ruthless about what you give your attention to.

The timer is the only discipline you need.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • MattVestrand

    I like the idea of being ruthless about what I give my attention to.  I spend most of my time on emails during the day not typing emails – but reading.  Mostly eletters and stuff like that.  And there’s only a few that are actually helping me make more money.  The rest are just mind candy.
    Guess the same ought to go for social media like Facebook, too. 

  • Now Ray…I MUST say I am skeptical…but crazy enough to try this for awhile. 🙂 Sure hope it works for me. I will try to report back later. ….
    Guess that did not post 3 days ago…internet challenges. 🙂
    Anyway…it has now been 3 days and I modified this a little. 15 min in the morning, 10 in the afternoon and another 10 before bed. Not been easy to do, but the free time it has generated for me has been liberating! Thanks for the idea…this one will continue to live with me even though it is a challenge. 🙂

  • Checking my three email accounts and responding to questions was eating up about two to three hours of my time each day. After reading this I have changed my ways. I now spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening, and have also delegated some of this to one of my virtual assistants. I was stuck in a pace where I believed that all email addressed to me had to be answered by me, but now I’m on the road to greater productivity.
    Connie Ragen Green

    • Wow, Connie, that is a huge difference. Thanks for sharing – it’s inspiring!

  • This is one of the best lessons I’ve learned from you, Ray, although I admit it’s only one of many. The timer, used in many ways, is a tool I use much more than I used to, although I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be in the productivity area.

  • I have a chicken timer in the kitchen which is about to find a new home beside my laptop.

    Actually, a coach gave me this idea for getting just about any project done in less time. Use a timer. Works for me because it becomes a focused and personal challenge to be faster than the chicken.

  • Alan

    I seem to have happened upon an interesting solution. I use Google’s gmail which has a feature that allows me to star any email I feel is worthy of my attention. So each day I scan the avalanche of new additions. Important emails get opened, read, responded to, and dropped into the appropriate holding folder. The rest, meaning the ones deemed important or of some value, get starred. This makes me feel good, having acknowledged the missive, before it disappears into the “probably-will-never-get-opened” abyss. After all, it is about feeling good, isn’t it!

    • That is a great approach, Alan. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ray Eickhoff

    Yikes! You made me jump off the high dive on this one. But I will give it an honest shot. Or how about 45 minutes a day?

  • Milafel

    As I commented in your previous post, I have an e-mail addiction, so doing this will be very hard for me. As cliche as it sounds, old habits do die hard–or they don’t at all. I’m hoping this very simple technique works wonders. Oh, I’ll try my best too not to open my mail first thing in the morning.

  • I currently use a timer for other tasks and for phone calls. I will apply this principle and never go back to spending more time than that! Thanks Ray!

    • Sounds like you are a woman who has The ability to set and achieve goals. I’m glad this was helpful.

  • Bee Johnson

    This is what I needed today. I can spend hours reading email. I have a timer, and will begin using it today, for email and for other tasks I have in my day. Thanks!

  • when I use the timer it works. I was hoping for tips on completing my email to my list in half hour. What tips do you have for that?