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How to Manage Your Inbox to Reduce Stress

One person on average gets 122 work-related emails a day and that may be a very conservative number for some. Checking email constantly throughout the day is a proven source of stress. So how do you manage your email and reduce stress?
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So how do you manage your email and reduce stress? Read my interview with Paula Rizzo, the founder of ListProducer.com and the author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed.


1) What are some of the common pitfalls you see when it comes to busy professionals managing their email?

I think we've all forgotten what an inbox truly is supposed to be used for. It is supposed to be a place where messages go in and go out quickly. But we use the inbox for so much more these days. It becomes a storage file for all those newsletters and coupons we just had to sign up for.

Also email isn't sacred anymore - we give it out to everyone and anyone pushing a free ebook or download. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you have so many non-essential messages coming at you.

Another issue is not setting any boundaries. Often as soon as you hear the ping or see the alert that you have a new email message you check your phone. This is the wrong approach because then those emails dictate your day and what you'll do next. I tend to be very strict about when I reply back to emails. If I can reply with a yes or a no or forward it to someone else to handle - I deal with it immediately. If it requires more time, I put that task on my to-do list and handle it later.

2) What are your top three tips to better managing email and your inbox?

1. Separate your work and personal emails. That way you'll be in different mindsets when you look through each of them. It makes it much easier to manage when you know the types of emails you'll see before you even open your inbox. It makes prioritizing much easier as well.

2. Use unroll.me - this is a wonderful website where you can sign up with your email and then see how many newsletters you're currently signed up to receive. I thought I'd have about 50 or so. Try - 350! I couldn't believe it. You won't even remember half the stuff you signed up for. Unroll.me will ask you which email lists you want to stay on and which ones you'd like to unsubscribe from and then do it for you. You can also have the option to roll all the newsletters you'd like to receive into one long email.

3. Create an optional folder - determining what is really essential and what is not can make all the difference. I was taking more time deleting emails I was annoyed about getting rather than just unsubscribing from them. I also created an "optional" folder using filters with words like "unsubscribe, newsletter and opt out." Email lists and newsletters of often use those terms so now all those emails go automatically into an optional folder. I know nothing essential will go in there but only optional messages. So when I have time, I can check that folder and my mindset changes from "do this right now" to "maybe I'll read through this stuff." It's a much different place to be and it makes my life much easier.

For more tips on managing your inbox click here.