An email has the power to change your day with a single notification – for better or worse. It might be an acceptance email from a university or it might be a client barking at you to make the poster you just designed pop more. For many of us, emails can be a catalyst for anxiety and stress. Email debt builds and productivity dwindles. Yet, emails are the main source of communication in the workplace. When people go looking for productivity tips to help fight procrastination, they tend to look over the biggest stressor — email anxiety.
So how can we fix it?
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 more 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!
Lengthy emails certainly have their place in an inbox, in the right situation. 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. Which is why replying to those 15 emails could take 15 minutes or 2 hours, highlighting the importance of having your emails filtered 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 (even if the conversation could have been summarised in 4 dot points or a quick phone call).
As emails pile up in your inbox it becomes more and more challenging to reply to them all. 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. Therefore, we put together a quick list of productivity tips that hopefully prevents a Monday morning computer throwing fit.
8 productivity tips to reduce email anxiety:
- Communicate with your internal staff about what should be in emails and what shouldn’t
- Arrange a clear communication process with your clients (daily, weekly, monthly etc)
- Clean your inbox! And keep it clean.
- Unsubscribe from emails that you don’t want anymore
- Allocate your tasks and amount of time you can spend replying to emails.
- Make a list of FAQ’s (emails that you regularly receive) and create templates.
- Pick up the phone. Long responses and conversations via email will likely take a few minutes over the phone.
- 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. Additionally, using a project management tool like Hassl could help you drastically reduce the number of emails you send internally. Our in-built chat gives you the chance to get quick responses from your team, helping you take back control of your inbox and make emails your friend again.