I used to absolutely DREAD my emails. My inbox was a demon-like figure with a head which would grow back the moment I chopped it off! Sound familiar? Since then, ‘how to manage email overload’ is a topic I’ve become VERY friendly with.
After implementing a few new tactics myself, I feel like I might *just* have defeated my inbox demons.
Here’s how I’ve been tackling my inbox of late, so that most days I am fully on top of it.
Sometimes even (whisper it!) at inbox zero!
How To Manage Email Overload: 5 Tactics Which Nixed My Inbox Demons
1 – Unsubscribe From (Nearly) Everything
After a conversation with a blogger friend of mine, when we both lamented our unmanageable emails, I revisited my inbox and dug deep into my newsletter sign-ups.
I was SHOCKED (like truly jaw on the floor) at the number of newsletters I has unconsciously signed up to!
Not to mention the number of databases which I’d been added to.
I was signed up to brand emails, blog roundups, educational resources . . . you name it!
From that moment onwards I started to unsubscribe from (nearly) everything.
Unless a newsletter truly added VALUE to my inbox, I unsubscribed.
Slowly but surely I systematically worked through my subscriptions, and suddenly my inbox OPENED UP.
I realised that it wasn’t just the time I spent reading these emails (since I barely read any of them!), but the time and head space I allocated to selecting them and deleting them which was creating inbox fatigue.
2 – Shorten Your Replies
I enjoy the process of writing, and historically I’ve carried this passion through to my (long, descriptive!) emails.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with writing a personality-filled message, if each email takes a long time to write, you are quickly going to rack up the hours in your inbox.
I’ve been there!
Nowadays I’ve learnt to shorten my replies.
I still infuse elements of my personality into my emails, but if a short and sweet message is all that is needed, I’ll aim to stick to that.
3 – Create Templates
Do you find yourself writing the same email over and over again?
An email template will save you SO much time, and ensure that you’re replying to your emails in a tone you’re confident with.
I identified seven common questions I am asked over email, and I have created a template reply for every one.
These templates still leave room for customisation and personalised details, but it saves me typing out the same response many times over.
If you’re unsure of how to create an email template, simply google your email server + ‘template’ and you will find instructions.
4 – Turn Off Notifications
I have never had email notifications turned on, on any of my devices.
That way I don’t get distracted by the ‘ping’ of a new email, and instead consciously opt into my inbox.
I set aside dedicated time (normally an hour or so per slot), to answer my emails in full.
When you are trying to juggle many things, it’s not always possible to get to ‘inbox zero’ and that is OK.
If I can, I’ll empty my inbox completely. But if I’m out of time I log out and save the rest of my emails for another sitting.
I read a quote recently which said that “answering emails is not your job” and I couldn’t agree more! Emails are part of your job, a supporting role to it, but emails are not the be all and end all of what you do.
5 – Delete Old Unanswered Emails
If inbox overload has truly settled in, and you are staring at 2,000 unanswered messages, I give you permission to go ahead and DELETE.
(After you’ve had a quick scan to check that there is nothing REALLY important in there!)
If someone really wants to reach out to you, or needs a reply from you, they will email you again.
Something To Ponder . . .
If after employing all of these strategies, you are still drowning in emails, it may be time to consider getting assistance.
If you run your own business, can you take on a part-time assistant, a freelancer or a VA?
Do you need to use an auto-responder to manage peoples’ expectations?
If you work for a company, can your manager allocate you an assistant, or divvy up your responsibilities?
Remember: your inbox should SUPPORT your work, not become it.
What’s Your Take?
Do you suffer from inbox overwhelm? If so, how do you handle your emails?
Can you share any tips of your own?
I’d love to hear from you!
Love, Monica x
Photography by Charlotte Bryer-Ash