Has email become unmanageable? Is your inbox full of unread messages? Does checking your email make you miserable? Try these tips to set some boundaries.
Ask yourself if you need to send that out-of-hours email. Answering emails in the evenings and at the weekend tells your colleagues that you are always available and expect the same from them. Step away from your email in the evening and at the weekends. If you write emails to colleagues, delay sending until within working hours.
Ask yourself if you need to attend to emails immediately. Turn off notifications and schedule time to check email-we waste too much time getting distracted by instant notifications. Set aside time during the day (whether that’s 2-3 times a day or a few minutes every hour) to check email and use the rest of the time to focus on other tasks.
Manage your inbox. Archive or delete emails after reading them the first time-we read emails repeatedly when our inbox is crowded. Create two folders to organize emails-one for emails that require further action and one for emails you might want to read again. Unsubscribe from unwanted emails so they don’t clutter your inbox.
Add a signature disclaimer. Write an explanation below your email signature that tells people how long it might take to receive a reply and increase transparency on how you work. Indicate typical response times so that people can plan ahead accordingly.
Consider adding an out of office reply to carve out chunks of time. An out of office reply doesn’t have to be reserved for vacations. Consider using this rule to create an email-free day on your calendar to allow you to concentrate on other efforts.