Email Anxiety – Increase productivity by reducing emails

5 minute read •

September 19, 2019


8 Steps to reduce email anxiety

It has the power to change your day with a single notification – for better or worse. It might be an acceptance email from University or it might be a client barking at you to make the poster you just designed pop more. For many of us, emails are a catalyst for anxiety and stress. Email debt builds and productivity dwindles. Yet, emails are the main source of communication in the workplace. 

So how can we fix it? 

How can we be less stressed at work and stop worrying about emails? 

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Here are some things you shouldn’t do when you receive an email: 

  • Delete emails as soon as they arrive without reading them.  
  • Use an ‘out of office’ auto reply when in fact, you are in the office. 
  • Forward your emails to someone else in your office to deal with and write ‘what do they mean?’ after the subject line. 
  • Yell at your computer or throw it out the window.
  • Play CubeField 

The source of email-related anxiety depends on the individual. Some people find that the delay between emails is the main cause of their anxiety, others feel that their email only brings bad news and many find that replying to extraneous emails is time-consuming and unproductive. The podcast Reply All even created a holiday, Email Debt Forgiveness Day, in an effort to alleviate inbox stress. 

Communication is much more than just words. When we speak with someone in person, our body language and expressions are just as important as the words we say. Which is hard when we communicate via email because they lack effusiveness. The lack of emotional tone with text is one of the reasons why emojis and gif are so popular – they help communicate emotion through a two-dimensional medium. 

hillary clinton email GIF by Election 2016

Lengthy emails certainly have their place in an inbox, in the right situation. But it’s hard to decipher whether the 15 emails in your inbox are all lengthy novels that require a small brainstorming session to formulate a reply or if they contain a single sentence about needing more printer ink. Replying to those 15 emails could take 15 minutes or 2 hours. Which is why it’s important to filter your emails before they arrive in your inbox. 

Even though deep down we would love to reply with TLDR, Call me, we feel obliged to reciprocate with another lengthy email to show your appreciation for the time they spent writing a lengthy email.  A long email looks important and the recipient feels more obliged to reply with an email of equal length. Regardless of whether the conversation could have been summarised in 4 dot points or a quick phone call. 

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As emails pile up in your inbox it becomes more and more challenging to reply to them all. Yet, many of the emails don’t even belong in your inbox. 

Some email programs allow you to set up email priority  so you can flag which are important but that can also backfire when tasks are all important but in their own ways. Here are a few solutions to help alleviate your email anxiety, streamline your work process and reduce Monday morning computer throwing rage. 

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Here are 8 Steps to reduce email anxiety:

  1. Communicate with your internal staff about what should be in emails and what shouldn’t
  2. Arrange a clear communication process with your clients (daily, weekly, monthly etc) 
  3. Clean your inbox! And keep it clean. 
  4. Unsubscribe from emails that you don’t want anymore 
  5. Allocate your tasks and amount of time you can spend replying to emails. 
  6. Make a list of FAQ’s (emails that you regularly receive) and create templates. 
  7. Pick up the phone. Long responses and conversations via email will likely take a few minutes over the phone. 
  8. Make a list of emails that shouldn’t be emails and implement it into your communication strategy. 

Cleaning up your inbox and creating processes around communication will help reduce your email anxiety. Using a project management tool like Hassl or a communication app like Skype will help you reduce the number of internal emails to staff and external emails with clients. Take back control of your inbox and make emails your friend again. 



Lauren Crystal

Scottish digital entrepreneur in Melbourne. Proud MD of Your Creative Agency, co-founder of Hassl. Contributor to The Startup.

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