4 Steps to Recovering from Email Overwhelm

Suffering from an overflowing inbox? You're not alone.

By all indicators, email overwhelm is a pandemic in today's business world. In the recent eProductivity satisfaction survey, 97.3% of respondents said they receive a large amount of work-related emails. Thankfully, 87.1% of those people said eProductivity makes it easy to get an empty inbox, and our goal is that eventually, everyone will say it's easy.

In any case, perhaps you're someone whose email inbox is out of control right now. Here are 4 steps you can take to recover and set your inbox on cruise control.

1. Drag all emails that are 30 days or older from your inbox into an "Old Email" folder.
This reduces your current inbox to a more manageable size that doesn't feel quite so intimidating.

2. Spend dedicated time each day processing your email.
You can't get your inbox on cruise control without some consistent effort. A good rule of thumb is to start with 30 minutes to 1 hour per day - of course the more time you spend, the quicker you'll get to inbox zero.

3. As you process your inbox, follow these processing rules
inspired by the GTD® workflow model:
  • If it can be done in 2 minutes or less - do it
  • If it takes longer than 2 minutes - defer it (add to a project or action list)
  • If somebody else is better suited to do it - delegate it
  • If it's not actionable - file it in a folder or delete it
The key here is to process each email once, on the front end, and make a decision about it. eProductivity provides the tools to quickly turn your emails into projects or actions as needed, or file the email for reference.

4. Each day, drag a few more emails from the "Old Email" folder back into your inbox.
Include these emails into your daily processing routine. By chipping away at your old emails and maintaining your current email inflow with the rules outlined above, you'll quickly reach a fully processed inbox zero. And, you'll keep it that way!

These tips will get you on the path to an inbox that's under control, and that's a great feeling. One person we know had over 17,000 emails in his inbox at one point. By following these guidelines and using the tools that eProductivity provides, he's been able to get to inbox zero and maintain it. So no matter how many emails you have unprocessed, there is hope!

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