You will probably not question the fact that e-mail causes you stress. Anecdotal evidence, nascent research, and my own personal experience is saying that it is currently one of the greatest causes of stress in the workplace. I have a suggestion.
It’s not the email itself that causes the stress, it’s the fact that you don’t handle it correctly. I have a few simple tips for you being master over your inbox, rather than your inbox mastering you. And trust me, I probably get more email than you.
Cardinal rule: You MUST keep your inbox empty.
- Set up a filter for, or unsubscribe from all of your email subscriptions, and any other service that automatically emails you. Never let it hit your inbox. You don’t need it.
Process your email at regular intervals. Depending on the quantity you receive and the frequency you receive it, spending 10 minutes at the top of the hour processing your email can go a long way. If you can deal with it in 2 minutes or less, deal with it immediately, then file it or trash it. If you can’t, put it on a separate to-do list, and file it. Get it out of your inbox.
Delete it. You probably don’t need it.
Feel free to ignore your email. Delete it or file it. If it’s that important, they’ll e-mail you back or call.
If the only way to empty your inbox RIGHT NOW is to ignore 20 (or 200!) “important” emails, do it. File them in a “to do later” folder and get on with life.
Enjoy your empty inbox. Your will breathe more easily and you will find your pulse returning to normal. You will also find that you are far more productive (because you are focused) with other tasks, leading to you actually getting to those 20 e-mails you put off in your “to do later” folder.
But most importantly, empty your inbox, NOW. Seriously, empty it.