Too much email?

GTD - my inbox (before)

A familiar story - I regularly hear from people who are struggling to deal with their Inbox and find it's taking up more and more time in their day.

Don't get too attached to your email.  It's probably not the most important thing going on in your life right now.  Yes, it's great to feel loved and see a new email arrive in our Inbox but that doesn't mean you have to deal with it there and then or that you need to need to deal with every single email that comes in to your Inbox.

Look at what's coming in - stop the flow at source.  If you've subscribed to newsletters that you no longer read, click the unsubscribe button.  If you've been subscribed to lists you didn't request, ask to be removed or click the unsubscribe button.

Use filters, folders and rules - manage what arrives in your Inbox so you can make more sense of what's important.  Automatically move anything that doesn't require your immediate attention to an appropriate folder.

Feel you're missing out - are you really going to read the email that's now six months old?  Probably not and the information it contains is unlikely to be critically important and is probably out of date.  You probably don't need twenty different sources of similar information.  Identify two or three sources of information you trust - whether for business information or personal development and stick with those.

Limit the time you spend in your Inbox.  That 'quick check' of your email can eat away at your time if you allow yourself to get distracted.  If your intention is to spend ten minutes checking your email, make sure it is just ten minutes.

Constantly dipping in and out of your email throughout the day means you're wasting time and not working efficiently.  Every time you get distracted or switch tasks it takes longer to get back to what you were working on.

Only check your email a couple of times a day.  Sounds tough but how critical is email?  No really, how much difference will it make if you respond immediately or the same day?  Now this does come with a caveat - if your business is very email driven and it's time critical - for instance you receive orders or support requests via email then this might not work for you.  However, for most of us - getting back within a few hours or the same day is fine.  If you respond instantly - you set expectations.

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