During the early days of email, we were thrilled to receive an email notification. (AOL, anyone?) These days, we’re drowning in email and nobody looks forward to it. The average American worker receives 121 emails per day. On a daily basis, each American worker will send out around 40 emails. We can now access emails not just on our computers but on our smartphones and smartwatches as well. Is Your Work Email Affecting Your Health?
Because of its ease and accessibility, you can receive emails around the clock. In fact, this is the reason behind the Gmail feature where you can turn off receiving emails for a specified set of time.
As you read this, chances are that you have around 200-300 unopened emails in each of your (multiple) inboxes. Is it any wonder therefore that people experience real stress from this bombardment of our email inboxes?
How do we keep email from controlling our lives? How can we control it so that we are focused on the job we were hired to do instead of being tethered to email all day?
In this post, we’ll discuss tactics you can use to tame the beast that can be the email inbox.
How To Reduce Email Affecting Your Health
Don’t make email the last thing you see before you go to bed
1 in 3 American adults say they don’t get enough sleep. While the causes for this are not well studied, what you do just before you go to bed matters when it comes to falling and staying asleep. Imagine seeing an angry email from a manager or client just before you sleep. For most people, seeing such an email will trigger feelings of anxiety. An anxious mind makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Here’s another scenario: you see an email from someone at work asking you about a project that needs to be completed and you are still in the throes of finishing it. You decide that instead of going to bed, you will stay up and finish the project instead of finishing it at work tomorrow.
In both scenarios, you’re not just interrupting your sleep pattern. You are also setting yourself up to be less alert, more tired, and to make more mistakes throughout your day the next day.
Set aside special time to check your email
Instead of checking your email 20 times during the span of an hour, set aside specific times of the day to check your email. This could be setting aside 10 minutes each hour of your workday to check your email.
Or you could set aside an hour of your day just for catching up with emails and responding to them.
Consider this your “email processing time”. You can even set a timer for yourself to keep yourself accountable.
Understand this: email is NOT your job
Unless you’re in a customer service position (we all are but, we’re talking about those people who are specifically paid to interface with customers), it’s important to realize that email is not your job.
You have a specific role you were employed to perform and spending 50% of your day answering emails will keep you from doing what you were hired to do.
Most emails don’t need an immediate response. Thus, assigning specific times to respond to and write emails will help you become more productive than you imagined.
When you’re answering email, it’s helpful to “triage” and prioritize. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
- If you realize during your email processing time that you can respond to an email with a one-line response that takes you 30 seconds, do it immediately.
- You may scan longer emails and realize it will take you longer than a few minutes to respond to that email. If this is the case, find out from the sender, if the conversation could be carried out over the phone instead of a complicated email trail.
- If the sender is not open to a conversation that could save time, consider shelving this email into a labeled email folder that you will get back to when you have more time to answer email.
- Unsubscribe from emails you no longer need or open. You know the ones.
- Delete emails that have absolutely nothing to do with you the moment you see them. This will keep emails from overwhelming your inbox.
Turn off notifications
If you plan on setting up email processing times throughout your day, it’s helpful to turn off email notifications while you work.
Email is the way modern workers communicate. We cannot ignore it. Yet, like any technology, it can overwhelm our lives and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety if we don’t control it.
Using the tips above, you can prevent email affecting your health and becoming a stressor on your work productivity.