Tackling the Volume | My War Against Email Clutter (Part 1)

email clutter

Email Clutter Must Stop

I was a buried in email clutter, and it was ugly. My program was open all day and all night. I was spending about 75% of my time scrolling, reacting, deleting, forwarding, filing, and fretting over my inbox. So I decided to wage a war. The sheer volume of email clutter – that is by nature organized in chronological order – made it impossible to prioritize and I was overlooking things that were important and actually required action. The volume clouded my brain and workspace. The volume of email was stressful because it was a constant reminder of everything I wasn’t getting to. So it was clear that the first step of my war against email was to tackle the volume of emails and quiet my digital workspace.  

  1. Unsubscribe from lists. Sure it only takes a second to delete an email, but those seconds add up and are a waste of time. If it’s from a group that sends WAY too many emails or I NEVER open or read their emails, why am I permitting them to clutter my inbox?  The bulk of this process took about a month, but I started seeing results in a couple of weeks.
  2. Coach my Team. I enlisted my Team to help me in my battle. I asked them to “batch” their emails – combining several emails into one. I asked them to clarify in the subject line whether they needed a response. I asked them to clarify in the body what they specifically needed from me, and when they needed it. I asked them to be brief. Finally, whenever possible, I asked them to use the old fashioned “chat” method rather than email. They enthusiastically supported my effort and I saw immediate results in the volume, clarity, and clear prioritization of staff driven emails.
  3. Stop Having Conversations on Email. This was my part. If I don’t want my inbox cluttered, then I must not clutter others’ either. I stopped digital chatting. I picked up the phone – I know… shocking….

Addressing the volume of email went a LONG way in quieting the digital noise and quieting my mind enough to approach a manageable email inbox. Next I would budget my time and toy with my filing system to further manage my inbox. Those tips to come.

Goal? ZERO email Friday. Can it be done?

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