Does your inbox make you sweat?
If we would have a look at your Inbox, what would it look like right now?
Are you able to dig up a specific email in no time? Do you use your Inbox as a to do list? Is it chock-a-block with unread emails? And if so, why’s that? Is it stuffed with newsletters and spam? Personal emails? How far back is the oldest email going?
How do you feel about your email? Frustrated, stressed?
Context Switching and FOMO
With an average of 28% of the day spent on emails, it’s the other part of the job that suffers.
It is ironic that email was developed as a productivity tool. But as things stand, ‘distraction tool’ is looking like a more accurate way to describe it. Current research describes the anxiety and stress an overflowing Inbox causes, but also the damage coming from the ongoing need to check incoming email. Both on a health level as on a productivity level.
That’s because every time you check your email, you switch context. And that comes at a cost. Having your email open permanently can eat away as much as 20% of productivity because of the constant context switching. That’s a whopping hour and a half every single day! No wonder the thought of email is making us perspire.
Part of the problem is FOMO, or ‘the fear of missing out’ on something exciting happening elsewhere (like that unopened email in your inbox or a social media post). The other part is the anxiety coming from the knowledge that if you ignore your Inbox, it will balloon out of control very fast.
Our top 10 tips
So what are the best ways to deal with email overload?
- Don’t leave your email open in another window and turn off the pop-up notifications. Check your email only at regular intervals. First thing in the morning and after your lunch break for instance.
- Also turn off email notifications from your phone. No cheating.
- Only touch each email once. When you read it; bin it, file it or deal with it (respond to it/ take action/forward it). Straight away.
- Create some template responses along the lines of: ‘Hi, We’re not interested in your product. Thank you.’ Or ‘Thanks for reaching out. I’m forwarding your email to the support team.’ Or ‘Thanks for your email. I will look into it and get back to you with an answer.’
- Also use a signature.
- Filter unwanted spam and unsubscribe from newsletters that are not worth the time and content.
- Use the priority function that your email provider offers like the ‘Focused’ vs. ‘Other’ tab in Outlook or ‘Primary’ and ‘Social’ in Gmail.
- Use the search function when tracking down older emails.
- Use the collaboration platform instead of email when working on a project.
- Use the Outlook Add-In to create and update tasks from emails in Outlook with no need to click away.