I’ve struggled with email overwhelm for years. I’m ready for some practical solutions to conquer my email inbox! I hope what I’m learning can help you conquer email overwhelm as well!
Let’s just get one thing straight: I am not an email expert. In fact, for several years now, I’ve felt as if email were my arch nemesis.
I’m learning that I’m not alone in this battle against email overwhelm.
While talking with real-life friends and blogging colleagues, in reader emails, Facebook chats, and in mommy forums, one thing is clear: The struggle with email overwhelm is real.
And, seriously, y’all, it has added so much unnecessary stress to my life! (Can I get an “Amen”?!)
For me personally, it goes back to my online community being crowded and my real-life community lacking. One of my primary goals for 2015 is to remedy that by cutting out the unnecessary online and cultivating richer, deeper real-life relationships.
With this in mind, I’ve been making intentional strides in digging myself out from email overwhelm. Here is what is working for me so far, and as someone who is still working on this, I would love your suggestions in the comments!
Practical Solutions for Email Overwhelm
1. Don’t check email on your phone or mobile device.
This used to be a major, major problem for me, but last summer I got a new phone and never set up the email app on it.
In the past, I would check my email on my phone multiple times each day. (I cannot even tell you how many times it was, and if I knew that number, I am sure I would be embarrassed!)
It would go down like this: I would check my email. I would get a message and think of a response in my head, but I would not take the time to actually respond. When I got back on my computer, the email would be in my read messages, and I would lose it in my inbox. Then, I would find the email weeks or months later and respond. True story.
I still know how to go through the web browser and access my email, but I try to only do that when I know I will be away from my computer for long periods.
2. Archive liberally.
If you use Gmail, did you know you can archive a message and then pull them up later really easily? This was a game changer for me!
Before, I was always scared of losing important messages. Now, if I do not feel 100% confident that I can delete the message, I just use the archiving feature.
When I want to pull up a message from someone, I use the search feature and type in “from: NAME.” Easy peasy!
3. Write short, quick responses.
I used to write novel-length emails all.the.time. Part of it is my Southern “politeness” ingrained in me, and part of it is that I am just long-winded.
But I’ve learned it’s not necessary and is often a time waster for me and for the email recipient who will have to read my novels!
There are times I still do write longer emails, but I try to keep most of them short and to the point.
If it’s a super, super short email, I will sometimes even write the entire message in the subject, and end with EOM for “end of message”!
4. Don’t answer every email.
This might make me sound rude, but I’ve recently decided that not every email merits a response.
Before, if I wasn’t interested in a business proposition but didn’t know how to respond, I would just leave the email languishing in my inbox. All this did was create mental stress and clutter for me.
If I don’t have time to answer everything and it’s not something that vitally needs a response, then I just don’t have to answer it.
(This does not pertain to reader emails. I read every single one and my 2015 goal is to answer every single one! This is more about junk mail–like companies who want to advertise stuff on my site that I don’t think will interest my readers, etc.)
5. Make a list of the types of email you receive and make an action plan of what to do with them.
This just popped into my head the other day, and it was a major lightbulb moment. Since I so easily succumb to email overwhelm, what is it about the types of emails I receive that lend themselves to this?
For me, personally, it’s not what it used to be.
In the past, I was overwhelmed with subscriptions (hold tight: we’ll discuss email subscriptions and what to do with them in #6!). This isn’t the case anymore.
When I started paying attention to the types of email I receive, a pattern became clear. I personally receive:
- personal emails (these are actually the rarest of those I receive!)
- emails from blogging colleagues/contributors
- team emails (from my blogging assistant, technical guy, ad manager, etc.)
- emails from PR companies and other businesses wanting to advertise on my site
- emails from businesses that I am an affiliate for that want me to advertise their sales
Now that I actually know the types of emails I’m receiving, I’m working on a plan to help me get through them as quickly as possible!
6. Use Unroll.me for subscriptions.
I have been using this FREE service for about a year now, and I love, love, love it.
In the past, I would get a TON of emails each day from different blogs and businesses that had me on their email lists. All it did was add to my inbox clutter, and I found that I didn’t even have time to read the emails from the blogs I wanted to read because I was so overwhelmed!
Unroll.me is a free service that manages your email subscriptions for you.
When you first get it, it will scan your inbox for all of your subscriptions, and you can go into your account and very quickly choose to unsubscribe, leave the subscriptions in your inbox, or roll them up.
When you choose to roll them up, the individual emails will automatically get filtered in an “unroll.me” folder, and you will only get one (ONE!!) email from unroll.me each day with all of your subscriptions in it. From that email, you can easily skim each of the email subject lines and intros., which helps you decide which ones to click on and read.
You can decide what time your daily “roll up” comes to you. I get mine in the evening because that way it won’t interfere with the rest of my day. I feel like reading my “roll up” is like unwinding with a good newspaper at the end of the day.
You can also go into your unroll.me account at any time to delete subscriptions, move them into your inbox, or roll them up.
How is this free? They have some ads in the roll ups–kind of like you see on blogs–but other than that, I have never had to pay a cent! They have no idea I am even writing this post; they’re not sponsoring me to sing their praises. I have just found it works so well for me that I couldn’t help but share!
I don’t want to contribute to your email overwhelm.
In our December reader survey, one thing was clear: You are overwhelmed with email. While a few of you who subscribe via email to The Humbled Homemaker said you would be sad if I ended the daily email option, the vast majority of you said you would be happy to just get a weekly newsletter in your inbox.
The very last thing I want to do is contribute to your email overwhelm!
For that reason, starting next week, I will be eliminating the daily subscription option. If you already subscribe to my daily or weekly newsletters, you will not have to do anything. My email service will automatically merge the daily with the weekly, and instead of getting an email for each new blog post, you will get one weekly email with excerpts from each day’s posts.
I am hoping this will help curb your email overwhelm and that with the newsletter you will quickly know which posts you want to click over and read and which ones you don’t. I was sending this newsletter out on Fridays, but based on some recent reader feedback, I will send it out on Wednesday afternoons, starting next week.
If you are afraid of missing a post, know that you won’t! I’ll summarize every single post in the newsletter! But you are also welcome to show up to the home page each day to check for new posts!
If you do not already subscribe to The Humbled Homemaker newsletter, you can do so here. You’ll get a free eBook when you subscribe!
This could not be more timely!!!!! Between my gmail and hotmail accounts, I am DROWNING! I cannot wait to set up the unroll.me and use some of the other tips as well like deactivating my mobile app…you are in good company – I frequently will check emails and then never actually respond! Great post!
I’m so glad it’s not just me but I hope we can both conquer email overwhelm together! LOL Unroll.me is truly a life saver!
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
I knew email overwhelm was a true disorder! 🙂
These are brilliant management tips – especially not having email on your phone!
It is funny that the things designed to make us more effective often contribute to our stress levels and result is less efficiency.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Erin! Though I can’t think of tips to add, you have given me something to think about.
Yes–it’s a true disorder! 😉 Yes–so much that is supposed to “help” us does just add to the stress!!
THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I was seriously considering changing my email address to get things under control ~ this was very helpful 🙂
I’m so glad you found it helpful!
You know, I actually check my email on my phone and think it is easier to manage it than to run to the computer. I don’t know though. Maybe if I was getting several hundred emails a day.
I think if I just keep up with it during the day, then it doesn’t overwhelm me. As time goes on, I’m guessing I’ll change my mind and stop checking on the phone.
I definitely think it can depend on the person! I was gone all day today and now have 60+ emails to process! LOL It will have to wait until tomorrow b/c it’s bedtime!
Great article! Such helpful advice! …and good for you on #4 (not everything needs a response) #6 looks like a great tool. In the past, I’ve gone through and spent hours finding, unsubscribing to each store newsletter and deleting them from my inbox – what a time saver to do it all at once.
Thanks, Rachel! You should TOTALLY try unroll.me! It is a lifesaver! I love it! (And it’s free!)
Unroll me looks amazing, I just gave it a go 🙂 Thank you for sharing 🙂
What I did to eliminate some clutter from cooking emails is find the blogger on Pinterest and/or Facebook, so I know where to go find recipes when I have time to look, but one less thing to check every day. I will have to try that unroll it since I always get tons of subscription emails for holiday sales this time of year!
I sat up a new address and give it out ONLY to can’t miss emails like insurance, my bank, newsletters and subscriptions I don’t want to miss.
Great idea, Rhonda! Thanks for sharing!
I keep 3 emails, lol.
#1 is for family and friends only.
#2 is for my bills, banking, school stuff for the kids
Important stuff only.
#3 is what I use to sign up on or for everything else that requires an email address that isn’t crucial to everyday life or survival.
I stay logged on to emails 1 and 2 on my phone and it keeps me up to date and it’s quick.
Thanks for sharing your system, Laura!