Wisdom//

Try These Simple Tips to Help You Triage Your Inbox and Reduce Email Stress

These tactics will allow you to set boundaries, stay organized, and avoid the pressure to react to every ping in real time.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

If we’re not mindful about setting boundaries, our inboxes can become a real source of stress in our daily lives, and can get in the way of our productivity, focus, and even our connections with others.

We asked our Thrive community to share the small tips and tricks they use to take the stress out of emails. Which of these will you try in your own inbox?

Use automated filters

“I use filters in my email to sort messages based on importance. For example, newsletters are tagged and filed as ‘newsletters,’ clients are tagged ‘clients,’ and things I need to follow up on are tagged ‘follow up.’ During the week, I dedicate a specific time to review each folder. This system keeps my inbox clean, and helps me prioritize my email time accordingly.”

—Michael L., certified NLP and CBT therapist, San Diego, CA

Press snooze for your emails

“I have a hearty inbox and receive emails at all times of the day given the nature of the business I am in. I started to reschedule or snooze an email to be removed from my inbox and have it appear back at a time when I know I will be able to focus and concentrate on it.”

—Terri Coakley, general manager, Portland, ME

Keep unread messages at the top

“To stay on top of my emails, I have my inbox configured to show unread messages at the top, and everything else at the bottom. I can easily ‘hide’ the bottom section, so that when I open my email, anything marked as unread or important appears at the top. Being able to separate the two sections keeps me organized, and helps me to avoid losing important threads.”

—Tianna Soto, educator and writer, New York, NY

Create templated responses

“I use Gmail’s response templates to respond to common inquiries. Combined with custom filters, I can keep my inbox relatively empty.”

—Kristi Hines, freelance writer, Phoenix, AZ

Schedule dedicated email time

“I give myself designated time slots for replying to emails. I find it helps you deal with emails when you have a set deadline in mind. I also deal with the most important emails first. It helps me prioritize what’s most important.”

—Claire Aristides, clinical hypnotherapist, founder of Mindology.app. London, U.K.

Use a tool to assign due dates

“I have adapted several tricks that help me manage my inbox workflow, but my favorite tool is the Asana integration on Gmail. This platform has been very useful for turning an email into a labeled action item with a specific due date. It allows me to delete or file the email and delegate it to the appropriate timeframe in which it needs a response.”

—Kaleen Skersies, real estate development, Seattle, WA

File emails by priority

“I’ve followed David Allen’s ‘Getting things done’ approach for years. Every email can be filed under: delete, read, handle now, task for later, file for reference, or ‘maybe someday.’ It works like a charm!”

—Dave Galloway, EVP service cloud and FSL adoption, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Check your inbox after your morning routine

“I don’t open my inbox until after I’ve completed my morning ritual and meditation practice each day. This rule ensures that I am centered and focused when I do open email and only respond to things that are important at the moment.”

—Jennifer Galardi, writer, host, and actress, Los Angeles, CA

Use color-coded labels

“I label nearly every email that comes through my inbox with a color-coded label. That way, when I scan my inbox, I can see if a message is related to work, travel, personal, or if it’s a coupon I might need for my next shopping trip!”

—Tianna Soto, educator and writer, New York, NY

Do you have your own go-to strategy that helps you avoid email stress? Share it with us in the comments!

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