Five Ways to Conquer Your Inbox

Q: The number of emails I get daily stress me out! Do you have any ideas on how to organize and make dealing with my inbox less stressful?

I remember coming back from vacation five years ago and being stressed about what my inbox would look like. So it was time to do some research and find ways to help those who felt the way I did. Over the past five years, this question has come up time and time again. How can we manage something we all need, but that overwhelms us? Below I have provided the top five tips that have helped my clients the most.

1) Book off time in your calendar
It is important to set time aside every day for an hour to focus on emails. This means you are not going to try to multi-task by answering a phone call or listening to a conference call. Also, do not reschedule this hour. Schedule this time in your calendar, and keep the appointment every day as faithfully as if you were meeting with your boss.

2) Limit the amount of emails back and forth
If you’ve gone back and forth on a topic more than two or three times and you’re still confused, pick up the phone. Call the person and get clarification: it will take much less time and be less stressful.

3) Have less emails coming through
 If you subscribe to a lot of blogs, newsletters or flyers, consider re-routing them to another email address or creating a folder to put them in.

4) Only get the ones that are “to” you
 If you are using Outlook, you can set up a “rule” that highlights the emails that are sent directly “to” you and leave the ones in which you’re cc'd as secondary. You can Google how to do this.

5) Say no thanks!
If you are being cc'd on emails that do not relate to you, kindly ask to be taken off the list, or you can set a rule in Outlook to send such emails automatically to another folder. (Once again, you can Google information on how to do this.)

This is the first step to managing your emails. Over time, managing your email will get easier and become more natural, and before you know it you will be wondering why your inbox is empty.

Natalie Shay is a Psychotherapist and Stress Management Counsellor. She works with individuals and consults with organizations with respect to topics such as stress management, burn-out prevention, work/life balance and emotional eating.  She works with clients to help them overcome ineffective habits and create healthier new ones. Natalie can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (416) 726-5631.     

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