In 2012, office workers spent an average of 13 hours a week replying to emails — and with statistics reporting that in 2018 approximately 281 billion emails were being sent everyday, this number is only likely to increase.
Many people on our courses report feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails in their inbox, and that managing this takes up a huge chunk of their day.
Here are our three top tips to beat email overload and take control of your inbox in 2019.
Use other methods of communication where possible
This might sound obvious, but sending an email to someone is only likely to generate another in response. I’m sure that many of us are guilty of sending an email to someone rather than picking up the phone or going to the other side of the office, but other forms of communication, such as using Skype for Business, Slack, arranging a quick ten-minute meeting or just picking up the phone, are often much faster. Plus, this saves the ‘back and forth’ of email discussion when a response just raises more questions — or the subsequent misunderstandings that can arise from written communication.
Try the 321zero method
Many people use their inbox as their ‘to do’ list, but this is never a good idea — it creates a never-ending task list and also makes it hard to prioritise your workload. Instead, Happy’s Chief Happiness Officer, Henry Stewart, recommends the 321zero method. Turn off your email notifications and check your inbox three times a day. Set a timer for 21 minutes and clear your inbox to zero. In those 21 minutes, all emails that need to be actioned are moved into a Tasks folder, while any that simply need a response, or can be resolved within a couple of minutes, are done.
Check your inbox after 11am
We recommend using the ‘eat four frogs’ method — set a to do list each day with three or four things that you need to do that day. Only check your email inbox at 11am once you have completed at least one of these things, this should be the hardest thing on the list, or the item that you’re dreading doing. By doing this, you will feel like you have accomplished something early on – and as a result, your inbox isn’t able to distract you from getting things done.
There will always be interruptions to your day, and also things which are out of your control, but by using these methods, email shouldn’t be one of them!
Want to learn more?
Join us on 15th March or 23rd April at Happy's HQ for our half-day course, How to Manage Your Email Inbox, to learn more techniques for managing your email inbox and avoid feeling overwhelmed in 2019.