How many unread messages are in your inbox right now? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? If that pile of unread messages in your inbox just keeps getting bigger, you’re not alone. The average worker receives 125 emails per day and spends 13 hours every week answering emails. And the volume of business emails sent is expected to keep growing, meaning your inbox is only going to get more crowded.

Not only is an overflowing inbox overwhelming, it can have a real effect on your work productivity. But fear not. There are a few things you can do to take control of your inbox overload:

Set specific times to check your email

If you check email constantly during the day, you may be wrecking your productivity. This survey showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans said they look at emails before going into the office and 30 percent said they checked their inbox while still in bed in the morning. Half of the respondents also monitored emails during their vacations. The numbers were even higher for Millenials.

Batching, or setting specific times to check your email, can help you focus and lessen distractions, and it can also help you be more productive at answering emails in one block of time. Block 15 minutes on your calendar several times a day to catch up on email and try to stay clear of your inbox when you’re trying to getting meaningful work done.

Create a system for organizing your inbox

There are many email organization methodologies out there, but one of the most popular is the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. The GTD method talks about classifying each email into one of five buckets. You can create email folders for each of these buckets to keep your inbox clear.

  • Delete: Is this email relevant to me?
  • Delegate: Am I the best person to handle this?
  • Respond: Can I respond in two minutes or less?
  • Defer: Will this take longer than two minutes?
  • Do: Can we complete the task in two minutes?

Use the GTD method or find a system that works for you and be sure to stick to it!

Simplify your communication channels.

You’re not the only one checking more than one email account during the day. According to research firm Radicati, the average number of email accounts per user is 1.7. You can minimize distraction and interruption by having all of your communication in one place. Umuse brings together your chat and email messages so you can spend less time checking multiple accounts and more time on the things that matter.

Remove the clutter by unsubscribing

If you’re getting inundated with promotional emails that you never read, don’t forget to unsubscribe! There are several services like Unsubscriber and Mailstrom that can help you go through the process of unsubscribing from those pesky email subscriptions at once. And if you want to keep promotional emails but don’t want them cluttering your inbox (like coupon emails from your favorite retailers) try setting up rules to have those emails automatically go into a folder, so you have them in a special place when you need them.

Communication overload is here to stay. There’s no time like the present to take charge of your inbox and organize your digital life.

Have a digital organization tip that works for you? Let us know!