When it comes to our email inboxes, they’ve become less and less a place of satisfaction. Think back years ago when getting an email was fun and exciting and almost felt like a literal digital version of a handwritten letter… now we barely even read our emails and have become almost conditioned to immediately stress out whenever we get an email notification. Are you overwhelmed by electronic mail.
So what can you do about this?
Many professionals argue that the larger the number of unread emails you get, the bigger the proverbial weight is on your shoulders. Think about it. Does your blood pressure seem to rise with the number of unread emails you have? The first key to remember here is that this number may seem overwhelming, but it may not be totally representative. What you actually have to deal with and what is just ‘filler’ is very different, so that number of unread emails is likely not quite your problem.
Getting that number of unread emails down is up to you, not our computers, servers or even colleagues. It’s your decision-making process and organization that comes into effect here. It’s important to be a little ruthless when it comes to your emails.
Employing a philosophy of ‘ Do — Delete — Defer’ will help with this. Delete those old newsletters and expired offers/tasks. If there is something important in there, that eventually emerges later on, guess what? It will likely be archived somewhere or stored in a cloud server. Or, and this is likely even more likely to occur, someone will email it to you again either upon your request but more likely without it! Do what actually needs to be done. It’s important to identify quickly what is a priority and then do it. Lastly, defer what isn’t immediately important. These are the emails that may need a response within a timeframe beyond the end of the day. When in doubt remember the three D’s.
Furthermore, the magic of the D-button or ‘Delete’ is truly that. Not only does it make the unnecessary disappear from our email inboxes, but it also has a lovely flow-on effect on our mental health. Every deleted (or archived) email is like a loading bar, filling its way up to decrease our overall stress level and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Creating filters to organize our inboxes helps also. Automatic filtering, or as some professionals like to call it “automagical filtering” is something you can easily set up with email platforms, especially Gmail. We know certain work topics, subjects, projects, announcements, and other things may not directly impact on us, but many workplaces choose to make communication comprehensive and don’t realize how frustrating this can be for everyone. By setting up automatic filters to siphon off topics into your own created subfolders will allow you to see what needs your immediate attention and what doesn’t. Once you’ve set them up, the organizing of your inbox is taken care of.
We also must not be afraid of the ‘snooze’ button either. You’ve probably used it a lot when it comes to our alarm clocks, but too many of us are afraid of it when it comes to our emails. This wonderful feature is there with our well-being, in mind and you should look at it as a way to prioritize tasks.
On the flip side of the issue, you may be the culprit when it comes to creating ‘email overwhelm’ for the folks you work with. Many of us are wired differently and love to work in the later hours of the day. If this is you, it’s a good tip to schedule the delivery of emails for the morning, rather than send them late at night. Waking people up (even though it’s their phone) because a push notification came through causes stress and the feeling that work is 24/7. If colleagues started to schedule email delivery for when the workday actually starts, it would rapidly decrease our feelings of being overwhelmed.
Overall, the decisions to make for your inbox is up to you. You should be confident enough to know what you actually need to know, and what you don’t. Be ruthless when it comes to feelings of being overwhelmed, and never be afraid to hit ‘delete’, remember those three D’s and set up those auto filters!
This article was written based on a conversation I had with Dr. Kayvon K on the Simplifying Entrepreneurship Podcast, Episode 12, just click the link and you’ll be able to hear our conversation and dig a little deeper on how to create an inbox that doesn’t overwhelm you!
You can watch the entire interview below.