TIME

This Is the Ultimate Secret to an Email-Free Life

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

There’s no doubt that a large chunk of anyone’s job involves reading and responding to dozens of emails every day. Tasks, promotions, email newsletters: Your inbox is never given a break—and neither are you.

But what if there was a way to stop stressing about all of those work emails? Or, what if you could do the impossible: quit emailing cold turkey?

This is exactly what entrepreneur Claire Burge recently did. After using RescueTime to track her workday activities and realizing that, because of email, she was productive for only about 23% of the day, she decided to stop emailing altogether for 10 months.

How? Burge realized that there were three different types of email she was receiving through the day: task-related, push notifications (just “FYI” sorts of emails that required no action), and collaborative messages. All of these messages, she concluded, could be communicated through other means, like a simple phone call, a tweet, or a task management system.

Additionally, Burge found that an email inbox isn’t as efficient as having specific and targeted task management systems. “With an inbox, everything flows into one pool; there isn’t any difference in any intelligent way,” she told Fast Company. “Using task management systems or social media platforms, messages are automatically sorted and are handled during times specified for those tasks.”

While Burge didn’t end up cutting out email for good after the experiment, she found a way to tame, reduce, and manage it, making email the exception, rather than the rule.

Don’t think you can kick email altogether? There’s still a lot you learn from Burge’s experiment. For one thing, start thinking of ways you can cut unnecessary email time out of your life. Make it a point to only check email a couple times a day or stop when you leave the office or by a certain time every night. (Let’s be real here: Would you rather be answering emails or watching the latest episode of Suits?) Or, like Burge, figure out if there’s a better way to get your tasks and messages across to others. A task management system or other app could in fact be saving you time and stress.
What can you do today to start cutting email out of your life?

About the author: Lily is co-founder of The Prospect, a college admissions and high school and college lifestyles website. In addition to her work with The Muse, she also does work with Her Campus, HelloFlo, and the Huffington Post, all while balancing being a student at Wesleyan University. You can follow The Prospect on Facebook and Lily on Twitter.

Read more from The Muse:

What to Do When You’re Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone

What Your Facebook Profile Says About Your Personality

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