Tips on how to prevent email overload

Mar 25, 2016 by
Tips on how to prevent email overload

Email is an incredibly powerful tool that has revolutionised the way that businesses communicate. While it’s wonderful to be able to send your brand’s message to an audience instantaneously via an e-newsletter, there is an unpleasant downside to living in a world where email is so ubiquitous.

When you’re receiving far too many emails every day and your productivity is hampered, you’re probably suffering from a severe case of email overload!

According to an infographic by Mailzinger, tasks take 33% longer to complete when you are interrupted by email. Additionally, multitasking between email and work can result in a temporary 10-point drop in IQ – the same as losing an entire night’s sleep! Fortunately, there are ways to combat email overload so that you can stop replying to emails every second and actually focus on important tasks.

1 – Set designated periods for replying to emails

It’s easier said than done, but if you can avoid opening your inbox except for during designated periods every day, your productivity will soar. For instance, you may commit to opening your inbox between 9 – 9:30am and from 4 – 4.30pm every day, and keep it closed at other times. You may wish to set up an autoresponder which tells people that you will not be able to read their emails outside of these designated periods.

2 – Don’t use your inbox as a to-do list

Don't get into the habit of using your inbox as a to do list...

Don’t get into the habit of using your inbox as a to do list…

There are excellent tools such as Toodledo which will help you to manage your to-do lists on a daily basis. However, you should never use your email inbox as a to-do list. Not only is this extremely ineffective, you will also find yourself spending way too much time replying to the constant drip of emails rather than focussing 100% of your energy on crucial tasks.

3 – Consider using a scheduling program

If you absolutely need to keep your inbox open during the work day but hate the constant drip of non-essential emails, consider using a scheduling program such as Mailzinger. This will enable you to designate when non-essential emails arrive in your inbox so that you can deal with them outside of your most productive hours.

4 – Deal with emails immediately

If you want to improve your email management, procrastination is not an option. As soon as an email arrives in your inbox, commit to reply, archive or delete it immediately. You definitely do not want to leave important emails dwelling in your inbox for longer than necessary, as this will drain your mental resources that you will need for other tasks.

Cat, on her blog, Ivy League Content Writer, states:

“Treat each email as a request for action.  Either swipe it to junk, answer it immediately, or if it requires more thought, mark it for later”

5 – Delete yourself from irrelevant chains

If you have been copied into an email conversation which doesn’t actually require your input, remove yourself immediately. Although this is more common if you work for a large company, time-wasting email chains can appear in anyone’s inbox. By removing yourself as soon as possible, this will ensure you don’t have any more emails on the same subject to deal with at a later date.

6 – Send less emails

If you want to receive less emails, try sending less. Sometimes, it’s more productive to pick up the phone and have a conversation if you think it will save you several rounds of back-and-forth discussions via email. As an added bonus, a phone conversation helps to build trust and rapport in a way which is simply not possible via emails, so keep this in mind when communicating with clients.

Entrepreneur and author, Chris Ducker, suggests using the ‘3 Sentence Rule’:

“If you need more than 3 sentences to reply to an email, pick up the phone.”

For more information about the insanity of email overload and how to combat it, check out this awesome infographic by Mailzinger: