We spend a lot of time on email. In fact, the average business worker spends an average of 13 hours a week on email communication. We send, receive, file, and filter all in an effort to get our jobs done. The irony is that all of this communicating to move the needle is actually cutting into our productivity. Email overload is causing us to feel more stressed and frustrated than ever before. But we can fight back! Here are some strategies to help you feel more at ease with your inbox by finding ways to make it work for you.

Time to Prioritize

We know not all messages are created equal. It’s likely more important that you respond to that urgent email from your boss over that meme from your office mate. Since most of your productive energy will be spent in the first two hours of your day, a prioritized inbox will help you spend your precious time wisely. If you don’t have a tool to do the prioritizing for you, find a way to sort through your inbox manually with a system that allows you to answer what’s critical first. You can always get to those cat gifs later.

Take a Minute to Focus

Seems simple, right? With the average business worker receiving over 125 messages daily, it’s no surprise that most of us are rushing through responding just to get that unread count down. The problem is, the less focused we are in our response to incoming messages, the more likely our conversations will fall flat. Basically, we’re just adding to the noise. Next time you’re tempted to shoot out a rapid response, ask yourself the following:

  • Will my response solve something?
  • Am I providing unique value?
  • Will my message lead to anything?

If the answer is yes to any of these, then full steam ahead! If not, take a second to refocus and think about what communication method would best get both parties to the answer you’re looking for. Your focused inbox will thank you!

Let’s Get Organized

Are you an aspiring inbox zero person? You’re not alone. Many of us have every intention of keeping our inbox organized only to consistently disappoint ourselves when we can’t keep up with the message volume that’s thrown our way. It’s time to shed that inbox shame and embrace what works for you. Maybe you have a Trello board where you keep your bright ideas or you rely on Asana to keep track of your tasks. Perhaps you’re like me and love the feeling of checking off a good ol’ fashioned to-do list at the end of each day. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re efficiently organizing the information that comes in via email to make going through your inbox a productive and organized experience.

We all have a unique way of managing the hundreds of messages that come our way each day. By prioritizing what matters, remaining focused on the tasks at hand, and embracing an organization system for our personal work styles, we can manage our inbox overload and keep our stress levels down while we do it!