How To Manage A Flooded Inbox For Your Mental Wellness

email inbox


Sep. 17 2021, Published 4:20 a.m. ET

Share to XShare to FacebookShare via EmailShare to LinkedIn

Working full-time, going to grad school full-time, and running a magazine means my email inbox is constantly on overflow. It’s easy to miss important messages from folks who I’d been waiting to hear back on – and missing out on some important events and opportunities that could have made my life easier and more productive.

If this sounds at all familiar, then these tips and tricks from experts are for you.

Only Check Email A Few Times Each Day

Instead of having your email accounts open on the browser or phone all day while you’re working (or studying or resting), try logging out and scheduling two to four sessions per day when you check, respond to, and deal with emails in other ways.

Personally, I have gone to emails first thing in the morning, right after lunch and at the end of the day. This allows me to respond to questions, set appointments, ask my own questions or verify I’ve got the day handled without wasting a lot of time doom scrolling my own inbox.

If you have a hard time controlling that anxiety on checking only during certain hours, you can also use an app like Boomerang. These apps delay email arrivals in your inbox to only during your email-checking hours.

Set Timers For Your Email Time

One analysis showed that folks spend nearly 30% of their day dealing with email in one way or another. At nearly 1/3 of the workday, it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed and unproductive.

To help deal with this time suck, you can set timers for a specific, reasonable amount of time you use to check and send emails each workday. Try starting with 15 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes midday, and 10 minutes at the end of the day to ensure that you have enough time to deal with most things, but don’t waste time scrolling through messages that aren’t a priority.

Article continues below advertisement

Cancel or Unsubscribe To Almost Everything

Most of us have way more subscriptions than necessary – and almost never read any of them. Certain newsletters make it into our inbox daily because we wanted or needed to read them, we had to subscribe to read content on a website, or wanted to support the author/creator. Now, our inbox is often clogged with thousands of emails we’ll never read making it difficult to find the emails that we are actually looking for.

Unsubscribe to whatever you can and, and if you really want to keep a given subscription, try changing your settings to receive only weekly updates instead of daily messages.

Practice The Four D’s

According to Marsha Egan, the four D’s of email maintenance are “do, delete, delegate or defer.”

  1. Do – If you can deal with the email immediately in less than a few minutes, do it.
  2. Delete – If you don’t really need to read or deal with the content of an email, delete it immediately. Don’t become an email hoarder.
  3. Delegate – If the email needs to be dealt with, but it’s not within your purview or you simply don’t have time, delegate the task to the right person for the job.
  4. Defer – Or if you do need to deal with the contents or action from the email but can’t accomplish it immediately and quickly, determine when you should and will deal with it and then organize it into the appropriate folder.
Article continues below advertisement

The key behind these is that no email is left unattended in your inbox, piling up and burying important messages you do need to deal with now or later. But don’t go crazy over-organizing, either. Emails are easily searchable anymore, so creating tons of folders doesn’t make sense. Instead, try creating a few you can use for tucking away emails you’re still working on or that you want to reference back to. A good rule of thumb is creating one folder for ongoing tasks, one for reference and one for everything else.

Turn Off All Notifications

There’s a strong possibility that you don’t need to know about every single email that comes in when it arrives to your inbox. Instead of letting your inbox ping your laptop or phone, turn off notifications and simply check during your designated email hours.

Think Manageable, Not Impossible

Ultimately, the point isn’t to get to inbox zero and live there. It might sound counter-intuitive but obsessing over inbox zero isn’t any more helpful than having to wade through 20,000 emails to find the one you need right now. While reaching inbox zero is a great thing for many of us, obsessing over anything becomes a stressor in itself.

Instead, take the approach of opening and then moving every email out of your inbox. If you have read the content and no longer need the email, delete it. If it’s something you need to come back to or reference for ongoing tasks, create a label or folder where you can tuck the email away for later. The key is keeping your inbox manageable. Zero isn’t required.

Ambition Delivered.

Our weekly email newsletter is packed with stories that inspire, empower, and inform, all written by women for women. Sign up today and start your week off right with the insights and inspiration you need to succeed.

By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

Latest The Main Agenda News and Updates

    Link to InstagramLink to FacebookLink to XLinkedIn IconContact us by Email

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    Black OwnedFemale Founder