Do you open your email inbox and shudder at the number of unread messages you have to sort through? Unfortunately, most people know that feeling all too well. But rest easy. This article provides useful tips for managing email overload at work and at home.
Email services, such as Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, are productivity tools meant to facilitate communication and collaboration. But it becomes a problem when you miss out on important messages due to the overwhelming amount of mail you have to deal with.
CEOs, business leaders, and managers may receive thousands of emails in a single day. It is hardly possible to read or respond to most of them. According to a study by McKinsey, an average worker spends 28% of the workday reading and replying to emails.
Impacts of Email Overload
Email overload is a serious issue. Think about all the time and energy that could have been used to achieve something more productive, not to mention the anxiety it causes. People who are overwhelmed by their inbox can become physically and mentally exhausted – or even frustrated. They tend to have lower job satisfaction.
The negative effects of having an overloaded inbox can be summarized as follows:
1. Context Switching
Every time you have to check your email during work hours, you experience what is known as context switching – this refers to when you shift your attention to something else before completing the task you have at hand. Context switching can waste up to 80% of your productive time.
Research has shown that once you’ve been distracted from your task, you will likely move on to yet another activity and it will take an average of 23 minutes before you go back to what you have on your plate.
Email overload often results in longer work hours and burnout. After spending much time and energy trying to organize your inbox, you might have to make up for the lost time by taking some of your tasks home with you or even working through the weekend.
Your inbox can be a great source of anxiety. When there are so many messages to read and not enough time to do so, you won’t know whether you are missing out on an important offer or exceeding a deadline.
You won’t know what to expect when you decide to take some time to sort through your messages. You may begin to make some progress, but at the same time, more messages will keep pouring in. Before you know it, you’ve already spent hours on mostly what turned out to be useless messages.
So how do you deal with email overload and take back control? We will now discuss some proven strategies to help you manage your inbox more effectively.
How to Manage Too Many Emails in Outlook and Other Email Services
There are three aspects to effective email management:
- Keeping incoming emails to a minimum
- Knowing how and when to check messages
- Setting expectations and prioritizing
Here’s how to prevent email overload in your mailbox:
- Communicate and collaborate with your employees and coworkers effectively.
- Allot time for email management.
- Delete unwanted emails.
- Unsubscribe from unwanted emails.
- Use different email addresses.
- Filter your inbox.
- Use the search function to find important emails.
- Use templates.
Communicate and Collaborate with Your Employees and Coworkers Effectively
If you are a manager, you should find better ways to communicate with your team. It helps to keep email text as short and concise as possible. This encourages faster response time since you won’t have to spend too much time reading unnecessary words.
Not everything should be accomplished using email messaging. Sometimes, a phone call or face-to-face conversation is preferable. Other tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Skype, can be used for communication as well.
In terms of sending files, a tool such as FileWhopper is highly beneficial. With it, you can securely transfer files and folders of any size without committing to a monthly subscription. You only pay when you need to send something, and the price is based on the amount of data to be transferred. The service offers free storage of up to 14 days. Your data is deleted from the server after the receiver downloads it.
Now that email scams are all too common, using a tool such as this can help keep your company safe.
Allot Time for Email Management
Create time to read and respond to your emails. The longer you wait to do the needful, the messier your inbox becomes. It leaves a bad impression on the sender when you take ages to respond to their message or even fail to respond at all. Depending on your email load, consider setting aside 5 – 10 minutes in the morning, afternoon, and evening to sort through your inbox.
Avoid the temptation of checking your email on impulse, especially when working. As mentioned earlier, it will take time before you can regain your composure and continue with what you were doing before you received the new email notification.
You don’t have to open every email in your inbox. There are some that you can identify at a glance. Quickly scroll through your inbox, select any unwanted messages, and delete them.
Unsubscribe from Unwanted Emails
It may happen that most emails you receive are marketing emails. When you make a purchase or register on some websites, you often have to provide your email address. Some ask permission to send you promotional content, which may be useful to you at the time. But after a while, it won’t be of value to you anymore.
Thus, an effective way to keep incoming emails to a minimum will be to unsubscribe from any service you no longer need. It is much more effective than manually deleting unwanted emails. All promotional emails must have an easy opt-out option. The link to unsubscribe is often placed inconspicuously at the bottom of the email body.
Use Different Email Addresses
Creating multiple email accounts can be helpful. For instance, you can keep a separate account for work, another for receiving mail from family and friends, and one for online shopping and subscriptions. It will help you to be better organized. You can manage all your accounts in one place by using the “Add account” option in your email app.
Filter Your Inbox
Most email services make organizing your inbox easy. New emails are filtered automatically so that you can easily identify those that are promotional, work-related, or from your social network.
Use the Search Function to Find Important Emails
If you are expecting an email or want to recall one that you previously received, it will be very difficult to start scrolling through hundreds of items in your inbox. Instead, make use of the search option to facilitate the process. Enter the name of the sender or a keyword that could be in the title or body of the message.
Most email services include advanced search options to help you narrow down your search results even better. For instance, Gmail offers search chips that provide search results by time frame, sender, attachments, and more. You can engage multiple search chips at once to quickly find an email you are looking for.
Most emails you receive each day may require the same response. Make things easier by using canned responses. You don’t have to type the same text every time you receive a new email. You can activate canned responses in Gmail through Settings > Advanced > Canned Responses. Afterward, write your reply text and save it.
Sorting through tens or hundreds of emails can be a daunting task. It costs individuals and businesses several hours of productive time every day – not to mention the stress and anxiety that stem from it. Fortunately, you can combat this problem by employing the effective methods suggested in this guide. Keep the emails you receive to a minimum, know when and how to respond to them, and learn to prioritize.