Work

Here's how many hours American workers spend on email each day

Milan_Jovic | Getty Images

If you work in an office, email is likely an essential part of your job — and your life.

When software company Adobe surveyed over 1,000 American workers for its annual email usage study, they found that people on average spend more than five hours per day checking their email.

"Email continues to be the preferred way to ask co-workers a quick question (39%), provide a status update (57%) or even provide feedback (47%)," Bruce Swann, Group Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign tells CNBC Make It in a statement. "So while email is a large part of our current workday, we expect it will only increase in significance, with 26% of survey respondents saying they expect their use of email at work to increase over the next two years."

During the workday, respondents reported spending an average of 209 minutes checking their work email and 143 minutes checking their personal email, for a total of 352 minutes (about five hours and 52 minutes) each day.

The figure represents a modest decrease in time spent checking email from when Adobe started conducting the survey in 2015. Workers spent an average of 465 minutes checking email in 2016, 352 minutes in 2017 and 360 minutes in 2018.

"While it's important to note that the time we spend checking email overall has declined since 2016, the frequency remains substantial," says Sarah Kennedy, Adobe Vice President of Global Marketing in a statement.

Just 46% of respondents said they are able to clear their inbox.

ONE TIME USE HANDOUT: ability to clear inbox

Adobe found that Americans are checking their email while watching TV, in bed, during work meetings, during meals, while driving and even in the bathroom — but also recognized a growing push to limit the amount of time they check work emails during their personal time.

Almost half (48%) of those surveyed said they don't check their work emails until they start working. Of those who do choose to check work emails during their personal time, 13% said they check while still in bed, 15% while commuting and 25% while eating breakfast.

While Millennials expressed interest in creating more work-life balance, they still checked their personal and work email at above-average rates.

ONE TIME USE HANDOUT: Situations where Millennials check email

Baby Boomers were the most likely to say they ignore work-related email while on vacation. Just over half of those born in this generation said they don't look at their work emails at all when they get away but 25% of Millennials and Gen X respondents said they check their work emails multiple times a day while on vacation.

"There are generational preferences and habits that come into play, for sure," says Kennedy, adding that email habits are highly personal. "It depends on the person and what their daily routines and preferences are. For example, someone who commutes via public transportation might choose to check their email while on the train, while someone who is driving to work would wait until they get into the office."

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