1. Be The Master Your Email
Remind yourself often that you are the master of your email, and not the other way around. You have the power to open your email program, or to keep it closed; to answer or not to answer any email; to save, archive or indeed, to delete the entire thing without a backward glance.
If these ideas cause you fear and stress, try one of our fast de-stress techniques!
2. Keep Your Email In Perspective
Honestly now, when is the last time you received an email that truly changed your life? That brought you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? That came from the Queen of England who came across your blog and now wants to be your friend, or buy your products?
How often does that actually happen?
Email really isn’t all that important, and we here at StressFish don’t understand how it came to be that so many of us have lost perspective of that.
You can survive WITHOUT email for days and most likely, altogether. Remember that!
3. Choose Your Time To Reduce Email Stress
A lot of people have their email program open all the time, and ping! here, and “little letter icon” there, and “you have mail!” everywhere.
This breaks your concentration CONSTANTLY, breaks focus on more important work, takes you in all sorts of directions all the time and this causes a lot of totally unnecessary extra stress.
Choose a time that you will devote to dealing with your email and whatever else that entails; deal with your email, and then CLOSE THE APPLICATION until you do another session with it, at another time.
* A special tip: Don’t automatically open your email client at the start of a session. Do something important first that requires your concentration. You will improve your effectiveness many times over because you won’t be constantly distracted and sent into a hundred different directions right from the start of your working day/computer time.
4. Save Important Stuff RIGHT AWAY
We have observed that people jump, hop and skip around in their inbox, reading a bit of this, a bit of that, “Oh I’ll get to that later …” – “Oooh what’s that that sounds interesting …”
Go through your emails in sequence and deal with one at a time. If something needs to be saved, save it THERE AND THEN. Do NOT open another email before you have done this.
Once saved, immediately delete the email so it is GONE.
5. Deal And Delete
The actual inbox of your email client should always be EMPTY after you have finished dealing with your email.
We know this is shocking as a concept, controversial even but it’s true – the inbox itself should be completely empty.
Useless stuff has been deleted, things that were of use have been filed to their rightful places. Places that are backed up properly and on a regular basis, because you cannot know if even tomorrow your hard drive hasn’t fried, or this computer you’re on stopped working.
Make it your mission to have a clear inbox at the end of every working day – even if this involves having a “todo” folder that you send things to you cannot deal with right away, and which gets cleaned out at least once a week, again emptying it completely.
6. The Closet Method Of Re-Gaining Control Over Your Inbox
If your inbox is totally overflowing, or your email client bunged up to the hilt with thousands of messages in the sent folder, you need to regain control.
Archive the lot (which in practice probably means you’ll never see ANY of it, ever again!) then delete everything that’s older than one month.
This is like chucking out the clothes you haven’t worn in a year – this shows you that you don’t need them, don’t like them, and will never deal with them further.
If deciding which emails to keep and which to delete causes you even further stress, use one of our quick stress release techniques, remember that emails are NOT as important or vital for survival as we all seem to think they are, or throw a coin and let the universe decide.
* If your email is seriously out of control, just make a decision to get started today and have it cleared up within the month. Spend 15 minutes of any session with your email client tidying up old messages BEFORE you start reading the new ones. This takes a little discipline but is well worth it in the amount of stress it reduces in the long run.
7. Stop Worrying!
If someone really needs or wants to get hold of you, they are not going to stop at one email; and the police isn’t going send you an email to tell you that a loved one has died in an accident either. Unless you are a customer advisor or sales contact, in which case you should honestly work through your WORK RELATED emails one at a time, you really need to relax and stop worrying about email, putting it altogether into its rightful place.
Just because email is instantaneous, doesn’t mean you have to respond to it instantaneously. Be methodical, remember to switch your email client off altogether when there’s other work to do, and delete, delete, delete to keep the minimum of messages in your email program.
The ongoing presence of email can cause a lot of stress that goes completely under the radar and seriously adds to your overall stress load; so take control, be brutal and relegate email where it belongs – somewhere in a distant 4th place after people knocking on your door, letters, and phone calls.