Tackling Email Chaos


When I was in college I loved getting email. Maybe it was because for the first time people other than Amazon and my great-uncle needed to get in touch with me. I loved returning to my room following lunch to open my laptop and find an overflowing inbox. It felt important in a way to have to sift through announcements or emails from professors and other students.

It wasn’t until around six months ago I started to feel the time-consuming and draining nature of taming the wild inbox beast. This year started off with an overwhelming jump in the number of emails I started receiving. While part of that was a sign of good things going on, the other side of it meant that I was spending almost every evening trying to respond to everything. That’s when I realized I needed to find some better ways to cope with email overwhelm.

While I haven’t exactly escaped finding myself frantically responding to everyone and everything, I did recently spend some time researching how to tackle email without losing your mind. Here are few pro tips:

Set-up an Email Schedule: With the age of tech gadgets glued to our hands, it’s easy to check email non-stop. I’m constantly checking my email on my phone or leaving the Gmail tab open on my laptop. But the truth is it’s far better to set-up designated emailing time, whether an hour in the morning, a few twenty minute sessions throughout the day, or another option that works for you and your schedule.

Email from Your Computer: Avoiding quick responses from your phone or tablet keeps you on task with whatever else you have going on. Make your designated email time at the computer, where you can respond faster, have greater access to files and links, and focus on a larger screen.

Organize: Erin Loechner, the blogger behind Design for Mankind, recommends deleting all unnecessary emails, archiving the important ones, and striving to keep your inbox in tip-top shape (meaning empty).

Get Over FOMO: The fear of missing out doesn’t just apply to life events. Don’t let the fear of missing out on an important email in your inbox get in the way of your life. If you’re one of the check-your-inbox-every-five-minutes types (guilty), ask yourself what you’d miss if you didn’t? An email from your favorite restaurant? A quick hello from a friend? A LinkedIn request? Chances are none of those things are going to drastically alter your life, and not seeing them for a few hours is not going to impact anything. Sure, important things do show up, but how often does that really happen?

Don’t Feel Guilty: Email should never take over lives. Not responding to someone as soon as they send an email–or even that day if it’s not an extremely important situation–should not weigh on your mind. Everyone is likely just as busy as you and is not going to feel insulted if you don’t get a response in immediately.

So, ditch your inbox for a bit. It’s not like it’s ever loved you back, anyways. And if you need a little help getting organized with your responses, here’s a snazzy “To Email” sheet I made to print and use.


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