Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in emails?

My friend, podcaster and fellow writer Donna Papacosta has great tips for dealing with the growing volume of mail in “Taming the email beast.” My favourite: Use the telephone. Not only can it save multiple emails back and forth, but it also gives you a chance to make a more human connection. I also agree with turning off notification, which I do.

However, I confess to a bad email habit: I leave my email program open so I can see (although not hear) when mail comes in. The discipline part comes in not opening and responding to the mail right away; sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t.

I was reminded how much time email can waste take up earlier this week, when I took my laptop on the road.

Son #2 had a lactose tolerance test at a hospital half an hour from home and we had to be there at 8 a.m. The test itself is pretty non-invasive, compared to most of the tests related to Crohn’s disease. However, it involved hanging around for three hours while the nurse took intermittent breath samples to see if his body can digest a type of natural sugar found in dairy products. So while he was in the room with a surprising number of other people being tested, I hung out in the hallway working.

It was an interesting experiment that pointed out to me how much time can be consumed in my usual morning check for mail, answering mail and cleaning out the in-box. It’s even more time if I start checking other blogs and posting to my own!

There was no wi-fi available so instead of going online, I got right to work turning five pages of interview notes into a 400-word article for a client. Since I had two other similar notes-to-articles jobs that I like to think of as “spinning straw into gold,” it was a good way to get one into a state that was pretty close to complete. (I’ve since submitted it and was pleased to hear “It’s exactly what I was hoping for.”)

Of course, it’s always easier to stay disciplined with a looming deadline!