Weekend Poll Results: Now We Know Where All Those Hours Go – It’s Email!

With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question … How much of your work week do you spend on email?

Minutes Copyright Shelagh DonnellyIn my poll, I’d included a range of selections – but it turns out I underestimated just how high a percentage of time email can consume for some. How so? A full 10% of respondents spend 65% or more of a typical week managing such communications. More than half the admin. professionals who responded to my latest Weekend Poll spend 41% or more of a typical week on email.

Variations of Note: “41- 50% of a typical week” was the percentage range selected by the most of you – a full 43.33%. At the other end of the spectrum, though, just over 6.5% of you have email whittled down to consuming less than 15% of a typical week – and another 30% of respondents spend 25% or less of their week on this responsibility.

How Many Hours? More than 10% of respondents spend eight hours or less on email in a typical week, while 24.14% dedicate somewhere between 10 and 15 hours weekly to this aspect of the role. 51.72% of respondents selected the “More than 15 hours” option.

Volume In Check the data below, and you’ll see that there are substantial ranges in the number of emails admin. professionals send and receive in a typical week. For example, 9.68% of respondents receive 100 or fewer emails a week, while another 9.68% of respondents receive in excess of a thousand over the same time period.

Volume Out You’re no slouches, either, when it comes to how many emails you send in a given week. While 16.67% of respondents reported sending 100 or fewer emails in a typical week, almost a quarter of you send more than 300 emails over that same week.

Multiple Email Accounts Only 25% of respondents are responsible solely for their own email. More than 30% of you manage two email accounts – yours and that of your principal/executive. Almost 44% of you, however, manage three or more email accounts. With such responsibilities, it’s little wonder that this responsibility consumes such high percentages of admin. professionals’ time.


All this information highlights a couple of needs. First, there’s merit in ensuring that we incorporate as many efficiencies as possible into our approach to dealing with email. In my last question for this Weekend Poll, I asked readers to offer their recommendations for increasing efficiencies. While one person was frank in saying, “No idea”, a number of participants offered suggestions that you’ll see at the end of this post.

Skilled Communicators

The other takeaway for me is that email represents a key opportunity to demonstrate professionalism, and the strongest possible communication skills. I’ll be writing more about this in the weeks ahead but, rather than viewing this clearly substantial part of many portfolios as a cumbersome task, might we do well to look at it as yet another means by which we build and enhance reputations? Stay tuned for more on this.


 Assistant typing

How many email accounts do you manage or access in your office? 

  • One – mine alone: 25% of respondents
  • Two – mine and that of my principal/executive: 31.25% of respondents
  • Three – mine and those of two colleagues: 21.875% of respondents (including a respondent who selected “Other” but identified three accounts)
  • Four – mine and those of three colleagues: 6.25% of respondents
  • Five: 3.12% of respondents
  • More than five9.38% of respondents
  • 3.125% of respondents selected “Other” and provided comments distinct from the answers above. This respondent typically manages three accounts but is currently managing more than the norm. Comments are below.
    • Three. Mine; principal exec; info@; also cover colleagues’ leave (5) presently

How many emails do you estimate you receive in a typical week? 

  • 1- 100 emails: 9.68% of respondents
  • 101 – 200 emails: 22.58% of respondents
  • 201 – 300 emails: 9.68% of respondents
  • 301 – 400 emails: 22.58% of respondents
  • 401 – 500 emails: 6.45% of respondents
  • 501 – 800 emails: 6.45% of respondents
  • 801 – 1,000 emails: 12.9% of respondents
  • More than a thousand: 9.68% of respondents

How many emails do you estimate you send in a typical week? 

  • 1- 100 emails: 16.67% of respondents
  • 101 – 200 emails: 33.33% of respondents
  • 201 – 300 emails: 26.67% of respondents
  • 301 – 400 emails: 6.67% of respondents
  • 401 – 500 emails: 3.33% of respondents
  • 501 – 800 emails: 10% of respondents
  • More than a thousand: 3.33% of respondents

How many hours do you estimate you spend on emails in a typical week? 

  • Less than 5 hours: 6.9% of respondents
  • Between 5 and 8 hours: 3.45% of respondents
  • Between 8 and 10 hours: 13.79% of respondents
  • Between 10 and 15 hours: 24.14% of respondents
  • More than 15 hours: 51.72% of respondents

Expressed as a percentage, how much of a typical week do you estimate you spend on email? 

  • 1 – 5% of a typical week: 3.33% of respondents
  • 11 – 15% of a typical week: 3.33% of respondents
  • 16 – 20% of a typical week: 6.67% of respondents
  • 21 – 25% of a typical week: 16.67% of respondents
  • 26  – 30% of a typical week: 6.67% of respondent
  • 31 – 40% of a typical week: 10% of respondents
  • 41 – 50% of a typical week: 43.33% of respondents
  • 65% of a typical week: 3.34% of respondents
  • 70% of a typical week: 3.33% of respondents
  • 80% of a typical week: 3.33% of respondents (“Globally – national & international – 80%/Most tasks come in through Emails.”)

Lastly, I asked readers how you would recommend increasing efficiencies with respect to email and your workload. Here are your responses, with a note that I’ve clustered similar or related responses rather than duplicating them.

  • I use my in and out boxes as my to-do list
  • I use folders, flags and category colors to keep on top of my inbox / better foldering for my executive
  • Adam Fidler’s 5 folder system (TM) and inbox detox
  • Have better spam filters and e-files
  • Re-educating my execs to speak to me with tasks (and) not email them
  • Access and action emails in chunks of time
  • Set up email rules for anything that can be moved and dealt with later / Use rules
  • Use flags/categories/quick parts for standard responses
  • Establish set times for focusing on emails / Only log in several times a day / Put time aside to do emails and (do) not look at it outside those hours / Checking at same times every day / keep the inbox open
  • Turn off your screen
  • Turn off alerts
  • Use VIP alerts
  • Have a no email day where colleagues (forgo it?) and talk to each other instead
  • Make more calls and visits / I now pick up the phone more and have returned to sending letters where possible

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