Do you prioritise your Inbox every morning, but find you’re still there an hour (or two later)? Managing your inbox can be highly time-consuming, and can set you back on the actual work you are meant to be doing – every single day.
If you have a high volume of emails coming in every day but not enough time to get to them all, they can build up quite quickly. Then you can get to the point where you just can’t read and manage them all, and those unread emails grow into the thousands. This is also really overwhelming and a big cause of Inbox Overwhelm.
Claim your time back by managing your inbox effectively
Email is an effective communication tool, and it’s not going away, and nor is the volume of emails that come into your inbox. Experiencing the dread of opening your Inbox every morning, knowing you are behind before you even start the day’s assigned work is a recipe for stress and overwhelm. The best way to reclaim your time
and manage your inbox more effectively is to take charge of your inbox.
Manage your Inbox to manage the overwhelm
The anxiety of an overflowing inbox is so overwhelming. If there’s a huge volume of emails to sort through, or even if you have a huge number of unopened emails – it can be very stressful. Putting some clear steps in place to managing your emails is essential for reducing the distraction and loss of time through constantly checking our inbox. It will also reduce stress of spending more time managing and sorting emails instead of getting actual work done. Always a bonus!
It may feel like we’re hungry for the next exciting email/ dopamine hit, but the constant checking and the constant stress of knowing that it’s consuming more time than you have available every day, sucks your energy and other client work.
Something needs to change.
As we know, when it comes to change, we can only control our own actions – so let’s take control of this space so that managing your inbox becomes easier and creates more time for everything else.
The Impact of not managing my emails effectively
Personally, I used to have some days in the week when I feel like my inbox is driving my to do list and I’m reactive to every single email that comes in. The result of this is that I’m in there sometimes every 5 minutes, responding asap and then checking for a response. The morning check in and organisation usually takes the longest though, especially where there are several emails that require a more thoughtful response or problem solving.
When I focus on these, I find that half the morning is gone, and I’ve been firefighting but not actually productive on the most important tasks for the day. I definitely have a sense of being reactive, distracted by it and then the sense of urgency increases for everything. The ripple effects of this are actually quite incredible. Working this way had the following impacts
- wasting my most focussed and fresh time of the day on email clearing and general responses
- stressing about the rest of the day and then having to squeeze in or rush work that I had mapped out time for (hello higher cortisol levels all day!)
- impacting the quality of the work that I was rushing
- missing optimal content publishing times on social media when I didn’t have my content scheduled
It was the first one on this list that really frustrated me though. I know that I’m at my best when I sit down and create without consuming. My message is clearer if it’s content work that I’m doing.
What about you? Have you noticed that you’re wasting the best hour (or two) of your day on general admin and responding to emails?
On a side note – I feel like the way I used to manage my emails, maybe 8-10 years ago probably hadn’t changed, and that may have been part of the problem. However, the volume of emails may have increased, as well as your overwhelm. In reality, there are now a lot more ways you can take charge of your inbox so that it’s not such a drain on your time. Can you relate to this? Has the way you manage your emails changed much over the last 10 years, or are you still a bit ‘old school, trying to keep up with the new kids’ and flailing a little?
What does Managing your Inbox actually mean?
There’s so much more to ‘managing your Inbox’ than just checking emails, and it’s this deeper management
that often takes a long time when it’s not working well for you.
When you access your inbox, there’s a lot of smaller ‘mini-processes’ you do. These include:
- responding to new emails
- scanning the CC’d emails that may have something important
- deleting the junk mail and the newsletters you know you’ll never get time to read
- taking time to consider an appropriate response for more important emails
- and leaving the emails in your Inbox that you are waiting for a response on, or moving them out of the main Inbox list.
That’s a lot of organising… and a lot of tabs open in your brain! No wonder it takes longer than you expect it to – every single day!
Managing your inbox actually means having a clear flow of information in and out, an easy organisational structure and a simple cadence for checking it. If you’re really clear on those 3 things, the processing time and managing your inbox will become a lot quicker.
Also, the benefit of knowing these three elements means that you can then utilise automations and integrations even more. That’s an even bigger win!
5 Highly Effective Tips for Managing your Inbox
That’s right. I’m serious.
If you haven’t read those by now, then chances are they weren’t actually that important, or they’re just mostly newsletters that you subscribed to and never read.
For me, if they are 6 months old and unread, and I haven’t found the time to read them, then I’m probably never going to find that time. So I delete.
Your Inbox can be a source of stress, but it’s where you communicate, work and do business. This space needs to be protected! Your time is precious, so only invite the emails in that you are really serious about – otherwise – delete!
Obvious caveat: If it’s a financial document or important in some way, then you will need to keep them, but you know what I mean. The others can go.
2. Set up labels and rules
Whether it’s gmail or Outlook, you can set up automations that keep emails that you need coming in and filing them appropriately without needing to organise them yourself. It’s a dream!
3. Use templates or canned responses
Save loads of time by creating draft templates (Outlook) or canned responses (gmail) so that you can access them quickly and send your pre-written responses quickly. Use this for ANY response that you think might be needed more than twice.
When you check your emails multiple times a day, I recommend saving the easy admin responses or organisation for later in the day. Prioritise the important emails in your first check in, and walk away/ close the window!
Use a quick check in after lunch to file, use your templates, follow up, so that you can still have time to work on your prioritised tasks for the day.
5. Use automations and integrations
As well as the labels/ rules automations I mentioned in #2, forward your emails into your project management tool, dropbox or Gdrive using automations or integrations. They are really effective and quick to set up. This also allows you to create a task for those emails that need a longer thoughtful response, so you can add them into your task list and schedule appropriate time without the stress of squeezing it all in.
Your action steps
You can try one or two of these suggestions and see if they start to help you feel like you’re the boss of your inbox.
If you want to know how to actually do these, then join me for the Inbox Management workshop
where I’ll show you how to do all of these and more. We’ll manage your inbox more effectively, save you time and reduce the overwhelm from this space.