Email overload is a common stressor in the modern workplace. If you feel that email is impacting your productivity, the following tips may help:

  • Check email only a few times a day. Turn off e-mail alerts so you don’t have the temptation to read and respond to messages right away. Instead, check your e-mail at designated times during the day. Many people find that checking e-mail in the morning, afternoon, and before they leave work is sufficient.
  • Make your email program work for you. Learn to set up your e-mail system so it automatically delivers incoming messages on specific topics to pre-designated folders while eliminating spam. You can check the relevant folders at your convenience. You may also be able to use colour coding or special alerts to help you organize your mail and see urgent messages right away.
  • Use the trio system of responding to email. When you are scanning your inbox, separate emails into three categories or folders: those that require an immediate response, those that can wait a day, and those that don’t require any response at all. This way, you’ll respond to urgent messages quickly without spending time on less important e-mails.
  • Separate work and personal communications. Set up a web account for personal email and ask friends and family to avoid sending you messages at work. This will reduce interruptions during your workday and may also bring you in line with your company’s policies regarding personal email.
  • Don’t contribute to email overload. Before you send a message, ask yourself, “Is this the best way to resolve this issue or communicate this information?” You may find that a phone call or even walking over to a colleague’s desk is more effective. Also avoid passing on jokes, urban legends, and other mass emails. These just clog up other people’s inboxes and may even be prohibited by your company.