Getting over email overwhelm – Part 1

Getting over email overwhelm

Getting over email overwhelm is a five part blog series  in which you’ll learn the exact steps you can take to gain control of your inbox and start making email work for you rather than against you.

Dealing with e-mail has become a constant struggle for many people; there are too many of them, we never get on top of dealing with them, the inbox is constantly full and they continue to arrive like swarms of angry wasps’ intent on diverting, distracting and creating stress in our already too busy lives. It needn’t be like this.

Ready to get started?

Part 1 – Who’s in Control?

The first step in getting over email overwhelm is to clearly define who the boss in your relationship with your email: is it you, or your email? Now that might sound like a daft question, but ask yourself if:

  • You read your email on multiple devices
  • Your email is set to automatically check for new messages every 2 or 5 or 10 minutes
  • You feel a compulsive need to see who is sending you email as soon as you see the little number appear that indicates an unread message
  • You have several email addresses and treat them all equally

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you are not in control of your email. It is in control of you. Some medical specialists would go as far as saying you may be addicted to you email. And we’re going to fix that.

Set a schedule

Your homework for today is to set a schedule for checking and responding to your email. That might mean 10 minutes first thing in the morning, 10 minutes at midday or just before lunch, and 10 minutes just before you finish for the day. Or it might mean you spend an hour once a day. It’s not so important when or how often as it is that you don’t allow email to remain the attention grabber (and time thief) that it currently is.

Manage others expectations 

If you have customers or friends who have come to expect your immediate response to emails, you may have to (gently) let them know the new email rules, but after a few days, they’ll begin to realise that even though you don’t respond instantly, you will respond.

Also, if you’re one of those people who receive hundreds of emails per day and you’re concerned that if you don’t “catch” them as they arrive, you’ll miss something important, consider setting up folders and rules. Use your email client to automatically sort your email into folders based on the subject or sender, then when it’s time to check your mail, you will easily be able to find important messages.

Getting over email overwhelm isn’t hard to do, but it does require conscious decisions and actions on your part. The first step is to simply decide to take control over your inbox. Remember – you are not a slave to your email.

In Getting over email overwhelm part 2, we will be talking about ‘project Inbox Zero’

Till next Time

The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner

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Mike Gardner - The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor helps the overworked and overwhelmed learn to say 'No' nicely, and improve their management of time, emails and meetings. He is also an avid fan of Aston Villa, a Dad of Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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6 comments on “Getting over email overwhelm – Part 1

  1. Janice on said:

    I am guilty as charged and have already started a regime to cut down on attention – I have taken notifications off my phone :)
    Thank you for the advice :)

    • The Time Doctor on said:

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks for commenting, oyu have made a good first step in turning off the notifications, it takes a little getting used to but it does work

  2. Appreciate your thoughts on this, but I think it’s all pretty individual how we manage our email. At work we are expected to read as and when they pop up and respond to urgent requests. It’s more a matter of which ones I can defer reading to later and which ones I must respond to immediately. As for devices, in today’s day and age we all have several devices and use them at different times for different things. I have several email addresses for very good reasons and yes I treat them equally – I select the ones I need to read, I delete the rest. I pretty much answered yes to all your bullet points – but make no mistake, I am in control.

    • The Time Doctor on said:

      Hi Suzy,

      thanks for your comments, contradictory views are always welcome and open up the debate, I am glad not everyone is as in control as you though, as I would not have a business :-)

  3. We all need to manage our emails. I’m looking forward to learning more tips.


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