Email has been around for quite a long time, and it’s unlikely that it’s leaving us any time soon. It’s an integral part of communication in the workplace and in personal lives, and it’s probably safe to say that most people use it every day. Whether you’re sending emails back and forth with a client, sending pictures of your new dog to your relatives, or receiving your weekly coupon catalog from your local grocery store, email is probably ingrained into at least one aspect of your life.
Sometimes, email can be overwhelming. Personally, I have multiple email addresses — one for my work, one for personal use, my old school email, and more. It can become a burden to check them constantly, and I can admit that I’ve sent emails from the wrong address on more than one occasion. If you take a vacation or even just spend your weekend avoiding emails, the messages can come flooding in, leaving you to take care of the requests, questions, and notifications all at once.
If you feel like email is taking over your life or that communication can be tough, it may help to learn about some ways you can manage your inbox. Follow these next steps to help take your email into control!
Folders are your friend.
Keep your email organized — seriously. It’s easy to have emails get lost in the clutter, and it’s not hard to accidentally delete an important message. You can organize your email in a few different ways, depending on your own preferences. Creating folders can help separate your email into different areas, making them easier to find and all kept together. When you have hundreds (or even thousands) of emails of varying topics all in one spot, this will only create more havoc. Organizing your life actually helps, and studies show that it can help reduce stress and depression.
Another way to organize is to consolidate your emails to one platform (if possible). For example, I keep my work and personal emails in Google, which allows for easy transition from one to the other, and it doesn’t leave much room for mistakes when it comes to inputting my email anywhere.
Dedicate time to your email.
If your job permits, allocate time to spend on your email. When you’re in your “email time,” you can respond to messages, send messages, and add items to your calendar. When you’re not in your “email time,” turn off notifications. Having multiple email notifications pop up may just add stress and distract you from the task at hand.
Dedicating time to your emails can also help you process them instead of skimming through messages and writing half-thought replies. Once you’re done looking through your inbox, close your email. You can always revisit it later if you need to.
Tone is EVERYTHING.
Once your email is organized (or if it is already), make sure to think about how you actually sound in emails. If you’re stressed, it’s likely that you’re going to give off more short responses to anybody you talk to via email.
Keep in mind that the people you speak to are human, even if it’s only through email. It pays off to be friendly — nobody appreciates an unwarranted snappy response. Also, while exclamation points are fun, try not to use them too much. They tend to be a little overused, making them lose their actual effect.
You also may want to make sure that you sound like you (unless you’re going for a specific brand). Some professionals may want to seem like they’re younger by being “cool” in emails, while young professionals may want to be older by being too professional in their emails. Just make sure you’re being yourself — and check to see how your emails sound.
Nobody wants to feel overwhelmed at work from emails. You may not be able to control your workload, but you can control how you handle the contributing factors to your workload. Utilize the resources available to you to stay on top of things, and always remember that you’re speaking to other people who may have the same stressors as you.