Fact: We receive on average 100 emails per day and need more than 23 minutes to focus again when we get distracted from an incoming email. When you think of email management, you often feel overwhelmed, frustrated and procrastinate that one response just a bit longer... Email Management can be so overwhelming and stressful.
In this post, I will share a few tips and tricks of how I manage my inbox and how you can take a few simple steps to master yours!
The top three issues why email management probably stresses you...
1. The email load
We receive on average 100 emails in a day. That's a lot. Because many of them need to be actioned on and replied to.
2. The constant distraction of notifications
We are constantly getting distracted through notifications of new emails coming in. I don't know about you, but I usually have at least 10-15 tabs on my chrome browser open, so every time that little Inbox (1) pops up, I can't help but peak into the inbox to see who the email is from. Boom. You (and I!) just lost 23 valuable minutes to get re-focused on the initial task. What that means? A huge loss in focus and of course productivity.
3. Time Management
It's not like we only have emails to read and reply to every day, right? When you have 5-8 meetings per day as well (or more!!), finding the time to answer your emails can feel really overwhelming.
How you can take back control of your inbox
(...and not let your inbox control you)
Set dedicated times during your day to check your inbox
This is such a simple step, and yet not a lot of us have taken the discipline to set dedicated times during the day to focus on one task at a time (the new trend is called uni-tasking!).
Set dedicated times, either 2 or 3 time slots (or however many seems reasonable and doable for you) during your day and stick to it.
That does not mean waking up in the morning, rolling over to grab your phone from the nightstand and scrolling through the emails that you received over night NOR doing a similar exercise just before going to bed.
In the morning, it's important you take care of yourself first and contain your energy before giving it out to others. There is nothing worse than setting the stage for your day by starting your day by reading emails.
In the evening, the goal is to slowly decrease your stress-levels from an action-filled day. I am sure you can relate when I am telling you: reading emails before bed can quickly spike those stress-levels...just imagine that late-night email from your boss asking for a meeting to discuss your performance...
Block your calendar
To make it even more effective, I would recommend creating blocks on your calendar for your new dedicated email management times and ask your team members to honor them.
A new email approach
Firstly, take action on emails that can be answered quickly right away and get them out of the way with. Secondly, when I start checking my emails, I always have a notepad by my side, scribbling down action items of things I need to get done during the day / week in order to answer emails with the requested details.
I also personally ALWAYS reply to an email immediately, even if I just say: "I received your email, let me check with my team and I will follow-up with details in the next 1-2 days.", I really appreciate other people doing it (it gives me peace of mind that they have received my email and working on my request).
In order to avoid having 2457 emails in your inbox, I also ALWAYS filter my emails immediately after I have answered them.
Emails that I replied to immediately move into the dedicated sub-folder, are moved to needs action or read later (for those emails, that seem interesting, but are more for my personal interest instead of related to my core job).
So my inbox (and mind!) is clear (it has max. 5-7 emails in my inbox that I don't want to forget about) - that's it.
Unsubscribe from unwanted emails
Imagine the stress or frustration you experience seeing those unwanted emails, every time you open your inbox! Just get rid of them once and for all! If you don't read them and only move them directly into your trash or a filtered sub-folder, then please do me a favor and hit the little "Unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the email.
(BTW: If you are subscribed to my newsletter; that's why you only get one email from me per month - nothing worse than spammy emails on a daily basis!!)
Close your inbox tab
Once your email block is over close your tab! The goal for the future is: don't get distracted every time a new email is coming in. I challenge you! And if you get distracted by email notifications on your phone as well, switch them off!
It's always important that with all of these tips you create what works for you and be flexible to create your own schedule and approach.
Remember: Stress Management is a skill that everyone can learn :-).
More tips on how to better manage your stress
Gmail Help Center Articles:
- How to create a label (and then move an email into a folder)