One of the time sapping activities we all get entangled in is checking email. It has become work by itself. Think about it. How many times do we think we have work to do and then check email. But email is not work. It is a mode of communication. Just like any other.
Sometimes, my dad used to see me work and ask me, what are doing doing the whole day checking emails. To him, it was something alien. He belonged to a generation who were used to inter office memos being taken down by a shorthand-typist and then physical copies being sent to the concerned people. The concept of cc (carbon-copy) also came from there. The typist used to carbon-copy the main typed sheet and send it out as fyi to the cc-ed people. People in that generation still got work done.
In the initial phase of my career I had a mail replication frequency of 1 min in Lotus Notes. I was obsessed with checking mails. Slowly, as I started to realize that email is just a means of communication and not the most important one at that, I have cut-down on my replication frequency to 60 min. Now, I rarely check my mails more than 3-4 times a day. I am trying to reduce that to twice a day.
I now work more by talking directly to people or chatting with them on instant messaging (Lotus Sametime). I find that it is much more effective and disruptive.
This way I have actually been able to increase my efficiency and am able to get much more done during my work hours.
My 2014 plan is to go back to a dumb phone so that I can get away from the urge of checking mails over the weekend (that's something I have still not got around doing).