Tip #65: Sort out your inbox.
The why: E-mails can be the most stressful part of the day. A constant cry for attention from work, petitions, people trying to sell you things, foreign princes who just need £5,000 because they’ve lost their credit cards.
Not only can the barrage of people who want you to do things cause serious anxiety, but also the constant distraction of responding to and checking E-mails can reduce your productivity, leading you to become more stressed about catching up with the work you missed whilst responding to E-mails about the work you have to do.
Fear not dear reader. No more.
Studies show that the average worker spends about 3 and a half hours checking and responding to E-mails. With 45% of respondents in one particular survey saying E-mails are the first thing they check upon waking up.
What could be worse than the moment you open your eyes in the morning seeing 47 unread E-mails that require your attention?
You begin your day fretting and overthinking about how long it will take you to get back to all of them. You begin your day worried.
Here are five top tips to help resolve the E-mail stress, and take back control of your time.
Number One – Assign Three E-mail Checking Slots Per Day 90
Instead of constantly being distracted by the onslaught of E-mails, set aside three times each day to check and respond to them.
For instance, I check mine at 8 am to pick up any from the night before.
Then at 1.30 pm to check any that have come in during the morning and to see if I have any tasks to do for the rest of my day.
Then finally at 5 pm to set myself up for the next day, and see any important ones that were sent during the afternoon.
This may seem like an odd concept. ‘What if someone needs me urgently? Or I miss out on something?” you may ask.
Most likely, if someone needs you to do something that important, they will come and find you to tell you.
Furthermore, if you let people know the times that you will check your E-mails, they will know that if they need something from you that cannot wait, they will have to speak to you, or if it can wait, they will know you’ll respond at the times allocated.
Number Two – Unsubscribe From E-mail Lists You No Longer Wish To Read
This may take an hour or two to do, but it will revolutionise your entire life. So many E-mails we receive we will never reply to, and have no interest in. From online shops, from politicians, from petitions we’ve signed, from special offers, from competitions that we’ll probably never win.
It’s just a bit too much.
Your inbox will seem like such a nice and happy place without this clutter, and you know the E-mails you do receive are going to be the ones you want to read.
Number Three – Flag The Important People
This can radically change and improve your inbox. If you flag certain contacts, it means then when they E-mail you, it will have a special star next to their name, or their name will be highlighted.
This means that it is far easier to prioritise your response time, rather than trawling through your inbox to find the important ones, they’re nice and obvious.
For instance, E-mails from your boss, peolpe you’re working with on a project, family, close friends can be flagged, so you never miss a thing.
Number Four – Clear Out Your Inbox
I know so many people whose inbox looks like this:
Just seeing that number gives me chills. Take an hour to properly clear out the junk.
‘Delete all selected’ is your friend.
Number Five – Turn Off Social Media E-mails
I get hundreds of E-mails a day from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, informing me that I have a notification, or someone has tweeted something or posted something. In truth, I will find this information out for myself when I log in, so don’t need to be informed in multiple ways.
Number Six – No E-mails Past 7 pm
So many times we let our work creep into our free time. To be honest, no one is going to E-mail you something important past 7 pm that cannot wait until you check your E-mails in the allotted early morning slot.
Make sure your free time is your free time and set a certain hour past which you are officially offline from E-mails.