Managing Email When Your Inbox is Overloaded

Managing email is getting harder and harder as the volume of messages keeps increasing, but our brainpower isn’t. The secret isn’t technological; it’s knowing how your brain works. Get-It-Done Guy has 6 tips to control inbox overload.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #236

Managing Email When Your Inbox is Overloaded

Managing email continues to bog us down. Get-It-Done Guy listeners write to me regularly, asking how to handle too much email. Today I’ll be sharing my 6 best tips on how to keep your inbox under control.

First, pretend I have long gray hair, a mighty oaken staff, and years and years of email wisdom. for I’ve been using email longer than you. How long? That’s such an impolite question. Let’s just say that if you think domain names belong in email addresses, you’re a late-comer to this particular party.

So I’ve been through all the how-do-I-manage-email learning curves: how to manage emotion in email, how to manage too much email and stay sane, how to cover your butt with innocent-seeming status updates instead of obnoxious BCCs. We’ll tactfully skip over the part where I learned about never, ever sending cyber-romance emails, and the fact that someone, somewhere, always saves a copy of every message you’ve ever sent. That’s fodder for my memoir and I want Zac Ephron (are you listening, Zac?) to play the part of Stever in the movie version.

So here are my 6 tricks to wrangle your email inbox into submission and keep it from taking over your life:

Tip #1: Manage Your Inbox, Don’t Empty It

In my 2008 episode on Keeping Your Inbox Empty, I shared a great tip for handling email by using a pencil and paper. It’s a great technique, works extremely well, and I use it daily.

But that was 4 years ago. Today, there’s simply too much email. If you handle every message that comes in, you can be sure you’re wasting a lot of time because much of that email isn’t relevant to your priorities. Spending time and attention on low-priority emails knocks you off your game at the moment.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.