Handling email overload

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I remember hearing about email for the first time – I was in my third year of university and had just come back from my semester abroad in Leiden. I was told about this way to keep in touch with the other students that didn’t involve those blue aerograms. This is something I want to get with, I thought. And so it started.

This story shows either how old I am, or how quickly things have developed technologically. Or maybe a bit of both. In my adult life, we have gone from “wow, what is this magic!” to carrying around a little box that carries all of human knowledge. And cat videos.

What it also shows is how tenacious email has been. It was there at the beginning and however much other options are offered up, it still seems to be the go-to tool for communication in many situations.

I have a love/hate relationship with email. In work environments, it operates at two ends of the spectrum. Either information is shared with two people when it really needs to be out on the open. Or you get those exchanges where more and more people get added in as the language gets increasingly passive-aggressive.

I’m an IM/group chat/collaborative software kind of girl. I’ve met many people over the years that don’t know something has happened if they don’t get an email about it. Whichever camp you’re in, though, I’m sure there’s something we can all agree about – we get too much.

So I thought I’d share ways I’ve come across to keep the emails down to a dull roar.

The first is a service like unroll.me. It’s free, and when you connect your email, you can go through everyone you get email from and put them in one of three baskets – unsubscribe, add to a daily digest, get immediately. So all those marketing emails that you’re vaguely interested in, but are a bit of a distraction, can now be delivered once a day/week.

I’ve also set up an email address that I only use for online shopping, newsletters etc. That means that my main email address remains fairly dross-free and I only need to look at the other one occasionally.

My third thing is using the various tools that come with email clients to segment my inbox – Focused inbox in Office365, the various tabs in Gmail, I’m sure other clients have them too. Then all you need to do is set aside some time every week to go through the other inbox and check there’s nothing important in there.

My final tip (and the reason I don’t use the Outlook App for my work emails) is the snooze function. My personal email client Spark also has this function and it’s great for keeping the inbox limited to what is important. As emails come in, I either archive or snooze them, or deal with them (which could include turning them into a Wrike task using the add-in, but that’s probably a whole different post…!)

Anyway, there you go. Some tips for avoiding email overload. How to you keep those emails manageable? Or have you given in?

Published by Antonia

I'm a British citizen, living in Melbourne, Australia. I head up the Community and External Relations division at Uniting Vic.Tas, a large community services organisation. I went to the London School of Economics and University of Melbourne. In 2008 I took part in the Eisenhower Fellowship Multination Programme, the subject of 3 of my blogs. You can find me on Twitter as @euonymblog or @antoniam

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