The Best Strategies to Manage Email Overload
Are emails taking over your work life? You're not alone. We've all felt that our inbox never ended, stressed by notifications popping up every few seconds, and stuck to our desks. But don't worry, it doesn't have to be this way.
According to research by Gloria Marks, emails are a major cause of stress at work. It's no surprise when the average person checks their email 74 times a day while at work. That's more than 9 times per hour! No wonder we're not getting anything done.
But don't worry, we're here to help. While some of you might be tempted to delegate your emails to an assistant with tools like Gmail delegation, with some strategies and the right tool, you can turn that inbox from a source of stress into your productivity powerhouse.
In this article, we're going to show you how to take control of your emails, reduce the overload, and get back to doing what you do best. Let's get started!
What is Email Overload?
Email overload, or email fatigue, is the feeling of being overwhelmed when you receive too many emails in a short period of time, making it hard to keep up with them all. It can lead to missed emails, missed deadlines, and an overall sense of being swamped.
And unfortunately, it is a familiar problem for many people.
Emails can be very stressful and make it hard to be productive if they're not managed properly.
There are a few common causes of email overload. But the most common is simply receiving too many emails from colleagues, clients, and unwanted outreach. Another cause is subscribing to too many newsletters or marketing emails, which can clutter up your inbox quickly.
The solution to overcome email overload is to implement strategies for better email management, like the inbox zero method.
It is important to notice when you are getting too many emails and do something about it, as it can hurt your work.
How Many Email Is Too Many?
When it comes to the number of emails that are considered "too many", there is no official answer. One person's manageable inbox may be overwhelming chaos for you.
But how do you know when you've reached the tipping point of too many emails?
A good rule of thumb is that you have too many emails when they start to negatively impact you. You may feel like you can't keep up with your emails, be stressed out, miss important opportunities or deadlines, or have trouble concentrating on other tasks.
But it's not just the sheer number of emails you receive, it’s also about how you manage them. Even if you don't receive a lot of emails, if you're not managing them effectively, it can still lead to email overload.
With all of that in mind, a good way to determine how many emails are too much for you is by tracking how much time you spend on email each day. If you're spending too much time on emails and it's stopping you from doing your job, you probably have too many emails for your current workload.
How does a Surcharged Inbox Impact Your Work Negatively?
As you are probably aware by now, an inbox full of emails can cause more than just annoyance. It can affect your work and mental health. Here are some of the ways it can impact your productivity, cause you to stress, and cause problems in your work:
- Decrease your productivity: When your inbox is constantly overflowing, it can be hard to stay focused and get things done. Constant notifications and interruptions can make it hard to keep your focus, resulting in a decrease in your overall productivity.
- Increase in your stress levels: Constantly feeling like you’re behind and that you need to check and respond to emails can be overwhelming. It’s no surprise that many studies concluded that it increases your stress and chances of burnout which can be harmful to both your physical and mental health.
- Missed opportunities: Having so many emails to go through makes it very likely that you’ll miss or overlook some important emails in your inbox. It can lead to missed deadlines and opportunities.
- Decreased professionalism: If you're unable to respond to emails on time or if your responses are disorganized or unclear, you could give the impression that you are unreliable or disorganized. It can result in a detrimental effect on your professional reputation.
These are some of the reasons why it is important to take control of your inbox. By implementing the strategies that we’ll explore below, you can avoid the negative effect of email fatigue on your work.
9 Strategies to Overcome Email Overload
Now that we have explored what is email fatigue, you might be wondering:
How do I stop email overloading?
Well, to avoid email overload, it's important to implement strategies to better manage your emails.
Here are some tips to help you overcome email overload.
1. Set Aside Dedicated Time for Checking and Responding to Emails
Instead of constantly checking your inbox, set aside specific times of the day to focus on emails. This can help you stay focused and avoid the constant interruptions that come with constantly checking your inbox.
When you check your email only at specific times, you can focus on your work and avoid getting distracted by constant notifications.
Another positive aspect of only checking your emails at dedicated times is to be able to prioritize which emails need your attention the most more easily. Indeed, by constantly checking your inbox throughout the day, it can be more difficult to see the emails that are the most urgent.
A good way to start is by dedicating specific times of the day to checking your email, such as in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of your work. This can help you stay on top of your inbox while still allowing you to focus on other tasks throughout the day. We recommend that you also set a limit on the amount of time you spend on emails during each session and that you make sure to stick to it.
2. Turn Off Notifications
Set your email to check for new messages at specific intervals. This will give you a chance to focus on your work and not get distracted by constant notifications.
By turning off notifications or simply disabling certain notifications, you can avoid the constant interruptions and distractions that come with constant email alerts. It can help you focus on your work and make sure you are not getting distracted by incoming messages. Additionally, by reducing the number of notifications you receive, you can make sure that you follow the first strategy which is to check and respond to emails only during dedicated times.
Another way to use this strategy is by setting your email client to check for new messages at specific intervals, like every hour. It will give you a chance to focus on your work, but still, get the new messages on time. You can achieve this in Missive by following this simple guide.
3. Use Filters and Labels to Organize Incoming Messages
Another strategy to help manage email overload is to use filters and labels to organize your incoming messages. By using filters, you can automatically sort your emails into different folders based on criteria such as sender, subject, or specific keywords. This can help you quickly find the emails you need later and keep your inbox organized.
Filters and labels can be used in a variety of ways to better organize your inbox, here are a few examples:
- Create filters based on sender: You can set up filters that automatically sort emails from specific senders into designated folders. It can be useful to organize emails from specific people, such as your partners or clients.
- Create filters based on subject: You can set up filters that automatically sort emails with specific subjects or keywords into designated folders. It can be useful to quickly find emails that are relevant to specific projects or topics.
- Create filters based on priority: You can set up filters that automatically sort emails into priority folders like Urgent, High Priority, Medium Priority, or Low Priority. It can be useful to quickly find important and time-sensitive messages.
- Use labels to categorize and find emails easily: You can use labels, like tags, to categorize your emails and quickly find them in the future. You can use labels like “Project A”, “Invoice”, etc.
With Missive rules and labels organizing your emails is easy. Best of all, they can also be used to manage shared mailboxes and emails.
Using filters your messages will be easier to find and you’ll spend less time searching through your inbox. You’ll also be able to prioritize and manage your emails, allowing you to respond to the most important and time-sensitive messages first.
4. Unsubscribe from Emails You No Longer Need or Want
If you find yourself with an inbox cluttered with newsletters and marketing emails then this tip is most likely for you. Unsubscribing to all the email subscriptions that you no longer read will reduce the number of unnecessary emails you receive.
A lot of us accumulate a large number of email subscriptions over time, like newsletters, marketing emails, and promotional emails. But these messages can quickly clutter up your inbox, making it challenging to find the important emails you need.
By unsubscribing from these emails, you can significantly reduce the number of messages you’ll need to go through in your inbox, making it easier to find the emails you need to read and respond to.
To stop receiving these emails you can either do it manually by unsubscribing to each email list you don't want to be part of anymore (or never wanted to in the first place) or use a third-party tool that can help you unsubscribe from multiple emails at once. Some examples are Unroll.me and Cleanfox.
This tip will help you to prioritize and manage your emails more efficiently, allowing you to respond to the most important and time-sensitive messages first.
5. Use The Right Tools
Using the right tools is an important aspect of managing email overload. While popular email clients like Gmail and Outlook can be good for managing your work emails, they might not be the best solution for achieving an empty inbox or at least keeping it at a manageable level.
Missive is a great option that offers several functionalities that can help you manage your personal and shared inbox.
With the right tool, you can:
- Automatically sort, categorize and block unwanted emails: With Missive's rules, you can easily sort, categorize, and block unwanted emails, making it easier to find the messages you actually need.
- Schedule Emails to be sent at a later time: Missive allows you to schedule emails so they can be sent at a later time. It’s especially useful for responding to emails outside of work hours.
- Set reminders to follow up on emails: With Missive you can easily set reminders to follow up on emails so that you don't forget about important tasks.
- Create a to-do list inside conversations: Missive lets you create tasks directly inside email conversations so you can stay on top of the job that needs to be done. Having a to-do list can help you prioritize and track your progress on tasks related to your emails.
- Archive emails: With Missive you can easily archive emails that are no longer needed. This will help you with the organization of your inbox.
- Manage and collaborate on shared emails: Missive brings together email, chat, and tasks in one place. It allows you to collaborate with your team via chat directly in an email conversation, assign tasks, and track progress, all from within your email inbox.
Missive can be a great tool to help you achieve inbox zero by providing a set of functionalities to manage, prioritize and organize your emails. It can help you overcome email fatigue.
6. Take Breaks and Set Limits
Constantly checking and responding to emails can be demanding and time-consuming.
It's important to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge during your day. Consider setting limits on the amount of time you spend on email each day to prevent burnout.
Another good piece of advice is avoiding check your emails before or after work. It will help you separate your work and personal life, and reduce the feelings of stress or burnout related to your work emails.
By taking breaks and setting limits on the time you spend on email, you can reduce feelings of overwhelm and stressed, and increase your productivity. It's important to find the right balance for you and stick to it to be more productive and efficient when managing your emails.
7. Communicate Expectations with Colleagues and Clients
Communicating clear expectations with your colleagues and clients is also a great strategy to reduce email overload.
Make sure that your colleagues and clients know what to expect in terms of your availability and response times. It will help manage their expectations and reduce the number of emails you receive.
You can start by setting up guidelines for response times, sharing your availability, and creating protocols for the different types of communication your receive.
With clear expectations, you can avoid confusion and misunderstandings that can lead to unnecessary email traffic. For example, if you let your colleagues know that you only check email at certain times of the day, they'll be less likely to expect an immediate response from you outside of those times.
Additionally, by setting up protocols for specific types of communication, such as using Missive chats or Slack for internal communications, you can help ensure that your colleagues don’t fill your inbox with unnecessary emails.
Another key aspect of managing expectations is setting up an out-of-office message when you're away, with clear instructions on who to reach in case of emergencies.
By communicating your expectations and establishing clear guidelines, you can create a more efficient and manageable email system for yourself and your team.
8. Use AI to Help You Reply and Craft Emails More Quickly
Utilizing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help you reply to emails, compose new emails, and even translate communications can be useful to avoid being overwhelmed by your inbox.
With the OpenAI integration in Missive, you can leverage the power of AI to automate some tasks and work smarter, not harder.
For example, the new Missive integration can suggest quick responses to emails based on context. This can save you time and streamline your email management.
Additionally, it can also assist in composing new emails or help you write emails more clearly and efficiently. The OpenAI integration can even translate communications for better international collaboration or support
By using AI to assist you with email management, you can work more efficiently and have more time to focus on the other tasks that counts the most.
9. Use Templates
Using email templates can help you respond to common types of emails more efficiently
One of the best ways to use email templates is by using a tool like Missive which has a built-in response templates feature. Missive allows you to create and manage your library of responses, which you can easily access and apply when responding to emails. This can save you a lot of time and make your email communication more efficient.
You can create templates for different types of messages, such as follow-up emails, sales pitches, automated out-of-office responses, and even reply to frequent support questions. Once you've created your templates, you can easily access them from within Missive and apply them to new messages with just a few clicks. Best of all you can also share them with your team.
Overall, response templates in Missive can help you to streamline your email communication, and save you time in the process, by allowing you to easily use pre-written messages. This can help you to respond more efficiently, and maintain a consistent and professional tone throughout your emails.
By implementing these strategies, you can more effectively manage your email inbox and reduce the feelings of overwhelm and stress that can come with email overload.
Email overload is something many of us struggle with. But there are lots of ways to conquer it.
Strategies we’ve explored in this article will help you manage your emails and make your communication more efficient and less stressful.
It's also important to recognize the signs of email overload and identify the causes, keep track of the time you spend on emails to make sure it's not taking away from your most important tasks. With the right tools, like Missive, and strategies in place, you can take control of your inbox and get back to being productive and successful.