Our inboxes are killing us. We spend inordinate amounts of time trying to stay ahead of email inflow, and it adds to our already-alarming stress levels.
McKinsey Global did a study back in 2012 and unearthed the unsettling discovery that we spend up to 28% of our workday just dealing with email! That’s practically one-third of every day spend wrangling with overloaded inboxes, unanswered communications, and a nonstop rising tide of things to do. And few of us ever seem to get on top of things.
No wonder psychologists say email is becoming toxic to our well-being.
While we’ve had time to improve things since the publishing of the 2012 study four years ago, I doubt it’s gotten much better. Inbox pileup is a major concern, judging by the sheer mass of web content that’s produced on the topic every single week. Just a few weeks into the new year and Wired.com has published more than a handful of articles on dealing with email.
Overstuffed email inboxes are causing stress…what’s anyone doing about it?
Given all the buzz about “Inbox Zero” and the alarming news that we spend almost a third of every day wrestling our inboxes to submission, what’s everyone doing about it?
From better platforms to add-ons and even paid services for those who simply want to turn the whole mess over to the pros, I for one can think of several ideas right now. So you’d think by now there’d be legions of entrepreneurial-minded developers racing to produce solutions for our strained inboxes.
Strangely, that’s hardly the case. The only company that’s made headway with taming the email platform is Microsoft. Mindful that our inboxes are bursting at the seams with ever-increasing and overwhelming quantities of communications, they’ve redesigned the whole thing from scratch and it’s revolutionary.
But this isn’t about how much I love the new Outlook. It’s about how you can quickly and easily manage your email inbox the right way, so you can get back to what’s really important in your life. Until other email platform developers follow suit and get smart about inbox management, we’ll have to rely on our own hacks.
Here are some of the the best routes available for taming the beast. For anyone suffering an overload of emails, these tips will help you find sanity again.
7 ways to deal with your overloaded inbox.
1. Change your outlook on Outlook.
Sometimes just finding the right tool for the job is all it takes. Outlook is no longer that clunky monster you used to have installed on your desktop. It’s now mobile, smart, and wonderfully efficient at taming your inbox.
2. Turn your email program into a project management tool.
If you can think of your inbox as a to-do list, you may have more luck approaching it with the requisite vigor for taming that gigantic inflow of communication.
Treat each email as a request for action. Either swipe it to junk, answer it immediately, or if it requires more thought, mark it for later. New smart apps have features to help you do all these things more quickly than ever.
3. Give less to get less.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner tried sending fewer emails and got surprising results: he received less, too. An Italian textiles company went even further and banned all internal email for a week. Even better results!
Science supports what Mr. Weiner and the Italian company did about email overload. A study published last year by the journal “Computers in Human Behavior” confirmed that less email equals less stress.
4. Set your alarm for your morning run-in with email.
Sorry, but rising extra early to manage your inbox is one way to cut down on the overload. It’s the one common thread you’ll notice among reams of advice from top CEOs on staying productive. Many rise before the sun to read email and set the tone for the day.
5. Unsubscribe immediately and often.
One thing that really junks up your inbox is newsletters. How many deals-of-the-day can you handle? And, like a whack-a-mole game they’ll just keep popping up in your inbox every day unless you unsubscribe.
Unsubscribe the second you notice an unwanted newsletter, before you have to suffer another one the next day.
Taken together, these 5 tips for taming your inbox should have a very fast and positive effect on your entire day. 2016 might be the year you finally wrangle control of the overloaded inbox and begin to see it as the helpful time management tool it was always meant to be.