My 3 simple rules for not getting stressed by email
Occasionally I get a glimpse of other people’s email inboxes, and seriously – how do you people function?
So many people seem to spend their lives with thousands of unread emails. Not only that, but once they’ve finally read them, they just leave them in their inbox, cluttering the place up further. The idea of an untidy inbox stresses me out – how can you stay productive like that?
I can’t help but think if we all organised our inboxes a little better, we wouldn’t all complain so much about email. It doesn’t have to be hard.
Back in 2011, I spent an hour or two archiving all the read email in my Gmail inbox. What was the point of having pages upon pages of email sitting there if I was never going to look at it again? And if I did need a message again later, I could always search for it.
Now, my approach to email is simple:
- I designate a couple of time slots per day to go through email and delete, archive, or reply and then archive.
- Anything I don’t have time to deal with, I snooze to reappear the next morning, or on the day I know I’ll be able to deal with it. You can now snooze email in the main Gmail service, and some other email apps.
- I aim to have an empty inbox at the end of each session.
It really is that simple. Having an empty, or near empty, inbox most of the time means I can focus on the important emails when they come in. And people appreciate it. They seem surprised when I reply to messages the same day they send them.
It’s not like I don’t have lots of other things to do, but by giving a little time each day, and a disciplined approach, to email, I rarely stress over it.