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
Episode #236

Tip #2: Manage Email by Leaving it Alone

Get comfortable leaving email in your inbox without handling it. It will happen. If a non-empty inbox stresses you out, you’re setting yourself up for an early heart attack. There are enough real life things to get stressed about. Email doesn’t deserve that much emotional investment.

If something is really important, you’ll remember it without needing to deal with it at the moment. Or you’ll have written it down and added to your task list. And if you miss something important, someone somewhere will eventually remind you of it. Trust me on this one. The IRS is not going to skip auditing you just because you didn’t respond to their email. I know this from personal experience.

Tip #3: Turn Off All Notifications

If you have a mail program that tells you when you have new email, turn off those notifications. Now! Those are interruptions and even if you ignore them, micro-distractions like that have been shown to reduce your productivity by keeping you from focusing. Email notifications put you at the mercy of whatever random message happens to come in next. Your email program should not be driving your priorities; that’s your job.

Gmail recently started offering to notify me of new email on my desktop. I said no. You should, too. Do not believe that Google is trying to help you manage your email. Google is not. Google is trying to get you to look at ads, because that is how Google makes money. Google makes money by interrupting you, decreasing your productivity, and getting you to make impulse purchases that run up your credit card bills. They are not your friend; you are their product. Remember that.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins 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. 

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