When I answered the question: “How to deal with e-mail overload?” I could feel a sigh of relief going through the audience. All of the young professionals in attendance were feeling stressed because of their overflowing inbox. If you are feeling the same way, read on! I am about to share three golden tips for dealing with e-mail overload.

First tip on How to Deal with E-Mail Overload

Don’t Start Your Day Checking E-Mail

Once I had shared this first tip, I asked: “If you are currently in the habit of checking your e-mail first thing in the morning, raise your hand.” I wasn’t too surprised to see all the hands except for one (let’s call him Mark) go up.

I asked Mark when he checked his e-mail and found out that he designates a few short time periods throughout the day for dealing with e-mail. “Nobody seems to be upset that I don’t respond immediately and it’s just more effective. I get much more accomplished that way.” I congratulated Mark on conquering his e-mail challenge.

To catch up to Mark’s approach, I suggest the following steps:

  • Begin by taking one pro-active action step before you check your e-mail, such as taking five to ten minutes to plan your day.
  • Once you are comfortable with this new habit and you are reaping the rewards of feeling less stressed and more in control, you will naturally want to increase your pro-active time. Once you have planned your day, focus on a specific project for 30 minutes to one hour before checking e-mail.
  • Now you are feeling even more in control and you are actually getting a lot more done. It’s time to follow in Mark’s footsteps and designate specific time periods (such as 15 minutes before lunch and 15 minutes at the end of your work day) for responding to e-mail. If you have trouble sticking to just 15 minutes, set a timer.

Second Tip on How to Deal with E-Mail Overload

Think Twice Before You Write an E-Mail

The fewer e-mails you write, the fewer e-mails you receive in your inbox. It’s that simple! Writing fewer e-mail is my second tip for how to deal with e-mail overload.

Before writing an e-mail, ask yourself: “What is the most effective tool of communication for this message?” It will help you eliminate many e-mails. You may find that you have more face to face and phone conversations and less e-mails waiting in your inbox.

If you decide that e-mail is the best way to communicate your message, follow these steps:

  • Write a subject line that captures your message well.
  • Write a short message and edit it properly before you hit the send button. Dealing with confusion or misunderstandings takes much more time than editing.
  • If action is required, be clear on “what” and “by when.”

Third Tip on How to Deal with E-Mail Overload

Think Thrice Before You Respond to an E-Mail

My third tip on how to deal with e-mail overload is to send fewer e-mail responses.

When you receive a cryptic, harsh or critical e-mail, don’t respond by e-mail – it will only make matters worse. Pick up the phone instead or address the issue in person. Sometimes no response is the very best response.

How to deal with e-mail overload

How to deal with e-mail overload

Consider that even some very kind, clear e-mail messages simply don’t require a response. Sending e-mail responses, such as “thanks” or “got it” may not be necessary.

Now that I have shared three of my golden tips on how to deal with e-mail overload, please share some of your own nifty strategies by adding a comment below. Thank you so much!

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