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When I talk to people about work life balance and strategies to manage their energy to achieve their goals, the subject of email inevitably arises. It is a stresser and a pressure, it interferes with other work, and often interferes with non work activities. It is also a key element for work productivity.
According to the Radicati Group, more than “100 billion emails are sent and received per day. Email is the predominant form of communication in the business space. This trend is expected to continue, and business email will account for over 132 billion emails sent and received per day by the end of 2017.”
To be effective at work, it is often necessary to respond quickly to emails. At the same time, a response to one email then generates many more – like a multi-headed hydra where one head is cut off and two more appear. In addition, many people manage their personal lives, especially at work, through email.
There are a number of tools and strategies available to reduce your email load. Just because emails are delivered instantaneously, does not mean that we need to respond instantaneously, especially when involved in another task whether it is a conversation or driving. These tips may prove beneficial to you.
- Roll with it. There are tools that will roll up and let you unsubscribe from lists that you are on. This way you can look at your subscriptions at your leisure rather than sorting through them and possibly missing emails that are actually directed to you. I use unroll.me
- Schedule it. While not possible for all people in all jobs, set specific blocks of time to read and respond to emails. Setting an alert for urgent emails (for example from your boss) might make this easier.
- Don't go to bed with it. Don’t check emails after a certain time at night or before an certain time in the morning There is scientific evidence that time spent on a computer screen in the two hours before bed significantly interferes with sleep. Poor or insufficient sleep directly impacts job performance.
- Read it. Be sure to read the entire email. Especially on mobile devices, it is possible to miss part of an email if you don’t scroll all the way down. While you may feel good about being able to quickly respond to an email, missing a key part, could lead to a huge email exchange and both a time and energy drain