If Your Inbox Is Overflowing, Here's How To Combat Email Anxiety

Even if you're extremely productive at work, you may still feel like you're not getting enough done. Why? One reason may be that your email inbox is constantly receiving new messages, and staying on top of it is impossible. In fact, if you're wondering how many emails one most likely receives, The Radicati Group, Inc. found that the average person received 122 emails a day in 2015 and only expected the number to increase. 

Maybe you've tried to organize your inbox before only to learn that your methods weren't sustainable in the long term. Another possibility could be that you often get notifications on your phone or computer that send waves of anxiety crashing over you. Or perhaps, you've decided to completely give up on looking through your inbox, knowing that there's no way you could keep up with the number of messages you receive every day. Those who resonate with any or all of these scenarios could benefit from a few helpful tricks to both combat anxiety and get your inbox under control.

Combatting email anxiety

When attempting to combat your anxiety around emails, the first thing to consider is this: what exactly is causing you stress? Maybe it's your phone constantly vibrating with new messages, or perhaps it's the worry that you've missed an important email. Once this has been identified, you can then tackle the root issue (per The Zoe Report).

For example, if your anxiety is being caused by notifications, turn them off while you're off the clock. If you're worried about missing something important, mark that sender as a high priority so that it sticks out to you when cleaning out your inbox. Another solution that can fix many issues at once is separating out time throughout the day to only look at your email. For instance, you could spend 30 minutes in the morning and the afternoon deleting and responding to as many emails as you can, but not looking at your inbox before, in between, or after those times. In addition, make it clear to others when you'll be responding to messages by including your office hours in your email's footer.

Getting your inbox under control

Along with the above tips, there are also some practical steps you can take to get your inbox under control. The first? Don't try to organize your emails into folders. While organization may seem helpful, it may actually waste time and make things more difficult. Fast Company says that this is because, if you need to find a specific email, you can always search for it in your inbox, which makes the folders basically useless. Unsubscribing from as many companies as you can to decrease your amount of junk mail could also be worth your while.

Another tip is to create a system for going through your email during your designated times. For instance, perhaps you begin by deleting any junk mail or things you don't need. Next, you could archive messages that you might need later but don't need a response or that you've already responded to. Then, go through and respond to the easy messages, the things that don't need further thought. Lastly, try to tackle those emails that may take longer to respond to. However, don't let these messages cause further anxiety — if you can't get to them today, send a quick message that lets the recipient know they'll get an answer by tomorrow or by the end of the week.