5 ways to stop email ruling your life

Woman using laptop in Oakleigh home
Woman using laptop in Oakleigh home

When email first started infiltrating its way into mainstream business culture, it was very exciting for email novices to receive a notification for their inbox.

Fast forward a couple of decades and most desktops and smartphones are brimming with notifications of bursting inboxes, adding far more stress than excitement to the daily lives of email users. If your inbox is starting to rule your life, we’ve got a few tips to help you take back control and stop being a slave to your email.

1. The two minute rule

Most email stress comes from the fact that no one ever knows exactly how long it’s going to take to reply to emails. It’s an understandable fear but the truth is most people spend far too much time writing emails. Almost every email anyone receives can be answered in two minutes.

Start setting yourself a timer for email replies, stick to it religiously and your inbox will stay in a manageable state. If you give yourself just two minutes to reply to every email you can power through 10 emails in 20 minutes which will save both your time and your sanity.

Start setting yourself a timer for email replies.

Man using laptop at table

2. The twice a day rule

Inbox burnout is often caused by over-checking your inbox. It’s become habitual for many people to check their inbox every 20 or so minutes but this is a huge waste of time. Set a morning and an evening email checking time and only check your email at those times. There’s no point in opening your inbox unless you plan on sending or replying to your emails.

Knowing you have an inbox full of unanswered emails that you don’t have time to reply to is pointless. You should only ever open your inbox if you’re actually going to do something once you’re in there.

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3. Unsubscribe

There are a number of programs that allow you to bulk unsubscribe from those annoying email lists you signed up to years ago.

The reason why most people have so much spam and junk mail is because it’s really time-consuming to manually unsubscribe from email lists, so most people tend to put this task off. Unsubscribing from unwanted emails will significantly improve the state of your inbox.

Woman in home office

4. The deal or delete rule

You don’t have to reply to every single email.

This rule works brilliantly for people who feel the need to respond to every email. You don’t have to reply to every single email. Many people have email paralysis because they feel the need to reply to the 20 people who sent them questions that could easily have been Googled.

If this sounds like you, try the ‘deal or delete’ rule. When you open your inbox you have to either deal with the email or delete it. Those are the only two options. You’ll find yourself deleting a lot more emails than you ever thought you would.

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5. The deal with it now rule

This one is more for people who get large volumes of email and end up with a bursting inbox at the end of every week. Set yourself a rule that if you open your inbox, you have to get it to zero every single time. If you only have five minutes to spare, don’t open your inbox.

That way you will only go into your email when you have a chunk of time to deal with it and it will save you from wasting 10 minutes every half an hour browsing your inbox instead of dealing with it.