How you can effectively manage email overload

Oct 07, 2018
Do you suffer from email overload? These tips can help. Source: Shutterstock

In this so called ‘age of communication’ why is it we seem to actually be communicating less?
Excuses include “I’m so busy I don’t get time to read all my emails” or “I get 300 emails a day”!

Personally, I still prefer to pick up the phone for any short discussions like – “are we still okay for 11am?” or – “just checking you received my thoughts re: the new intern?”

With so many of our family, friends and, of course, superannuation fund, banks or other important institutions moving to a 100 per cent online method of keeping us informed, it’s important for us to ensure we don’t lose track of the important updates.

I’ve taken to spending 15 minutes at the start of the day to help manage any email overload I might be experience. Perhaps this routine will be useful for you too — it applies equally whether you are still working full-time or happily retired or somewhere in-between.

Delete! Delete! Delete!

Before you do anything, turn on the computer (tablet/iPad/phone) and open your email program only. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media app — just your email.

Let all the messages come in while you grab a cup of tea/coffee/juice etc.


From the top, start deleting stuff you have subscribed to and rarely read — better still unsubscribe from the legitimate email subscriptions, not those from spammers. For those, you want to mark it as ‘junk’ and delete it from your inbox.

Reply immediately

Try and answer all emails as soon as you read them — even just a simple: “might be better if we chatted on the phone — will call later okay?” or a simple/courteous: “Thanks for this! Talk soon.”

If an email doesn’t require your immediate response — or the reply can wait until you have some other info to get for the emailer, reply: “Thanks — back to you soon!” then mark it as ‘unread’. You can also set it for a follow up same day, next day, next week even (be careful with that one) but make sure you follow up!

Don’t forget to check the Spam/Junk folder for legitimate mail. It can go in there for many reasons, but they are not always spam. After close inspection, move them to your inbox if they are okay.

Last but not least, if you have some important follow ups to do, put a reminder in your calendar — whether that be on the phone or your computer or… *gasp* a notepad on your desk or a calendar on the wall/fridge!

Then, guess what… Close your email!

Don’t open it until after you come back from lunch (or dinner etc. depending on your work hours) or if not working full-time, leave it closed until tomorrow. Too easy!

Of course if you are still in the workforce you can start your day happy in the knowledge you have at least ‘communicated’ with them, even if it’s just a simple ‘I’ll get back to you’ reply.

If you’re somewhere in retirement, go and enjoy your day. You do, after all, deserve it!

Do you suffer from email overload? Do you have any tips to combat the issue?

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