If you are like most of us, your e-mail inbox is a huge source of distraction and frustration. It's a bottomless pit that constantly pulls you away from the high-value tasks you should be doing on your business. And, unfortunately, it isn't going away anytime soon. 

A few years back my workplace did a survey of small-business owners and asked them what their biggest waste of time was during the business week. We discovered that e-mail was the largest time waste for these executives by a factor of three to one, with the average person wasting over eight hours per week on average. That's one full working day per week on low-value junk e-mail.

So, today I wanted to share with you four times that you should close your email program and communicate with your team or clients in a different way. 

1. Project Management

If you're managing a high volume of tasks and project deliverables, e-mail is not the way to go. It's clunky and slow and details and follow-up tasks can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Instead, move your projects to an online project management software like Basecamp, Trello, Zoho projects, or Hive. You will be able to task certain areas to your team members and have a broad overview of where everything stands with a few simple clicks. No more searching around an inbox for a lost email thread. 

2. Difficult Conversations

E-mail is awful for nuanced emotionally complex conversations. You're just going to end up with heartache, creating all kinds of fires that take 10 times more time and emotional energy to put out. Even though it's difficult, having an in-person or phone conversion is the only way to go with difficult complex conversations. 

3. Real-Time Feedback Loop

Have you ever found yourself sending someone an email, and then 30 seconds later you get a reply? And a minute and a half later, you reply back to their reply? What you're having is a chat conversation. Now, there is a time and there is a place for chat and e-mail is never the time and place for a chat. 

Why? Because it forces you to have a certain low level of vigilance to monitor your inbox, which takes you away from higher-level tasks. If you're going to use chat, try What's App, Facebook Messenger, Skype, or Slack. It's more structured and you will end up being more productive. 

4. Brainstorming

Lastly, e-mail is a horrible place to creatively brainstorm ideas and many people try to use it as just such an activity. Often, an e-mail thread gets passed around from one person to another with everyone adding some ideas to the mix. In the end, you might have a few good ideas, but nothing beats the alchemy of creative energy that comes from a true in-person brainstorming session. E-mail is just not the place to do that. 

E-mail will always be there, but if used properly it can help you drive your business faster and smarter. Keep it in its place, but don't let it drive you for the places where it falls short.