Is your email inbox stressing you out?

Business leaders at all levels often receive dozens to hundreds of emails every day. If not managed appropriately, it can become a big source of stress and a severe drain on your energy and time.

If you’re like most diligent professionals, the more the unread number climbs up, the more uncomfortable you feel. And when you didn’t have time during your busy day to even look at email, you become more frustrated.

Or worse, you decide to take time out of your personal life to handle emails – like in the evening or getting up even earlier to tackle emails before the workday gets started.

Time you could be spending connecting with loved ones or enjoying some fun activity that makes you happy and feeds your soul. You may get temporary relief from chipping away at your inbox, but you’re never able to get caught up with the constant flow coming in.

It’s time to beat the stress of your email inbox once and for all.

Email is here to stay as an essential part of our workday communication, and it’s growing. According to research conducted in 2019 by the Radicati Group, Inc., the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019, and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by year-end 2023.

So how do you beat the stress and take back control of an overflowing email inbox?

Here are some best practices you can implement today:

Unsubscribe from unwanted promotional emails.

If you work in a corporate environment, this may not be an issue for you as promotional email and spam is filtered out at an organization-wide level. In smaller companies or personally, it is still relevant. I recommend you unsubscribe from all non-essential newsletters and advertisements. They can become overwhelming and clutter up your important messages.

Here’s an easy and quick way to unsubscribe. Search your emails for the word “unsubscribe.” Review the search results and determine which you’d like to continue to receive. Open the ones you’d no longer want to receive and click their unsubscribe link.

Work your inbox intentionally.

Block out and schedule time in your calendar to work your inbox intentionally. The amount of time required for reviewing email and replying will depend on how frequently you check messages and how many you typically receive.

Some clients I work with find it more effective to dedicate 15-20 minutes twice or three times a day, at regularly scheduled times. For example, 8a-8:10a to scan for urgent emails that may have come in overnight and reply; 12-12:15 and again at 5p-5:15. In the beginning, set a timer to make sure you stick to your scheduled time otherwise you may wind up getting lost in your inbox.

If you have hundreds or thousands of emails you may have to plan for longer time periods in the short-term until you get the emails down to a manageable amount; then use something like the above example for daily maintenance.

Use the 2 minute or less rule.

Use the 2 minute or less rule: answer emails in 2 minutes or less to get them out of your inbox. Short and sweet, just like this tip. Next.

Get organized.

Depending on your email client at work, most of these functions should be available for you to take advantage of in order to streamline your email management process.

Create folders to categorize emails that you need to save.

Organize your emails with labels. Labels are like folders, but you can add more than one label to a message.

Filters allow you to automatically manage incoming emails. You can do things like archive, delete, star/prioritize, move to junk, trash or other folders, and forward your incoming emails. For example, any emails from your manager can be set up to be marked as a priority/important with a star or different color so it stands out to you.

Lastly, manage emails before you open them by quickly viewing the sender and subject and then right-click to do things like move, archive, delete, mute, snooze, label, or filter.

Take Action Now

Implement one or more of the bits of advice above to beat the stress of your overflowing email inbox.

If you liked this information and found it useful, leave a comment below. Share how you used any of this advice and how well it worked for you, including the improvements in other areas of your work life or personal life now that you got back control of your email inbox.

Photo by Glenn Carstens Peters on Unsplash