It’s Monday morning and you already have 75 unread emails in your inbox. It’s not the best way to start the week, but it’s pretty normal for many professionals. We’ve all been there, and we all know the overwhelming feeling that little red circle brings when it appears on our screen.
While I’m still trying to find the best system for handling my own email overflow, here are a few tips I’ve followed to avoid allowing email to take over my day:
Michael Hyatt has some great advice on organizing and prioritizing your email in this post. In reality, not all emails are created equal. Some need to be read and responded to right away. Others should be archived or deleted in bulk. Keep that in mind whenever you receive an email. If it needs to be addressed immediately, respond. If not, set it aside in a folder or use your best friend, the delete button.
2. Set a time limit
If you’re not careful, you can start answering emails at 8 a.m. and the next time you look up, it’s going on 10. The best way to ensure you’re not sitting at your computer sending or responding to emails all day is to set aside specific blocks of time for sorting email. Take some time in the morning and afternoon to read, respond, and clean out your inbox.
3. Disable email notifications
That little icon on your phone that announces a new email message may seem convenient, but it makes it more difficult for you to focus on other tasks, pressuring you to responded immediately. Few messages are truly that urgent, and in most cases, if someone needs an immediate response, they’ll know how to reach you by phone or other methods. Instead of constantly checking your email, wait until you’ve finished a task you will get more done and feel less enslaved by your inbox. (And here’s how to disable your email notifications.)
If we’re not careful, email overload can keep us from doing the things that God has actually called us to do. Stewardship isn’t just a principle we apply to our money; it’s one we apply to our time, resources…and inboxes.
What are some other helpful tips for overcoming email overload?