10 Tips on How to Manage Email Overload
Email can be an extremely effective communication tool, but only when you know how to control email overload. Every single day, 14 billion spam messages are sent to email users around the world, greatly increasing the number of emails users have to manage on a daily basis in order to prevent email overload.
“Business leaders, CEOs, and managers often receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day. Reading and responding to every message can become a drain on time and energy,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.
The good news is that there are many things email users can do to manage emails effectively and efficiently. Let’s take a closer look at ten proven strategies for managing email overload.
1. Don’t Postpone Email Management
Email management procrastination is a huge challenge that all email users must learn to overcome in order to manage email overload. You’ve probably been there yourself. You wake up, open your inbox, and discover ten, twenty, or even thirty new emails begging for your attention even though you’ve been expecting just a few.
Because the most important emails often take the most time to deal with, they often sit in your inbox unopened for days, which is guaranteed to leave a bad impression on the senders. To prevent this from happening, you should set aside time to read and respond to emails.
You could, for example, dedicate 10 minutes solely to email management in the morning, 10 minutes around lunchtime, and 10 minutes after work—that’s entirely up to you. Many entrepreneurs like to dedicate 5 to 10 minutes to email every hour.
Just make sure to stick to the allotted time slots and keep yourself from checking your inbox all the time unless you really need to.
2. Use Filters
Filters are simple rules that help you sort out new email messages automatically when you receive them. All popular email services and clients support filters, and you might be surprised just how much you can accomplish with them.
For example, you can use filters to automatically move all emails sent by your colleagues to a separate folder so you don’t have to painstakingly identify each work-related email amidst spam, promotions, and personal emails.
Unfortunately, not all email clients and services make it easy and intuitive to create filters, which is why many email users prefer modern email management solutions like Clean Email, with its automation features that allow you to apply any action to new emails coming to your inbox without any manual work.
3. Use Templates to Save Time
Take a close look at your sent folder. Do most emails in the folder look similar? We bet they do. Most replies can be classified in just a couple of categories, so it makes sense to create and use email templates to save time. Instead of writing each and every reply from scratch, you can simply select the most suitable email template and change a few words.
Some people use email clients with built-in support for email templates, while others store email templates as text files in a folder. Email templates are especially great for overcoming email overload in the workplace since work-related emails tend to follow the same pattern.
4. Unsubscribe from Unwanted Subscriptions
Virtually every website you register on asks you for permission to send you promotional emails. Some websites ask directly, while others go out their way to make the question as obscure as possible so that you don’t notice what you’re really being asked to allow.
Instead of manually deleting individual promotional emails, it’s a much better idea to unsubscribe from unwanted subscriptions. According to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, every promotional email needs an easy opt-out option. Most marketers place it at the bottom of emails, and they are required to honor opt-out requests within 10 days.
If you’ve been using the same email address for many years, the chances are that you have hundreds of active subscriptions, and it would take you hours and perhaps even days to unsubscribe from all of them manually. A bulk unsubscriber like Clean Email can block unwanted senders or unsubscribe from unwanted emails with a single click, making it the best way to manage email overload caused by unwanted subscriptions.
5. Create More Email Addresses
We understand that the idea of creating more email addresses to better manage email overload sounds daft, so please bear with us for a moment. Having multiple email accounts allows you to strictly separate different types of email messages. You can, for example, use one email address exclusively for work-related emails, another address for personal emails, and one more address for subscriptions or online shopping.
Whenever you find yourself too busy to manage all email addresses, you can simply focus on your most important email address and deal with the rest later. Most email services and applications make it possible to manage multiple email addresses from a single place, so all you need to do is add them from the settings menu.
If you like the idea of using different email addresses for different purposes but are not keen on actually creating them, you can use a popular Gmail trick to create unlimited siblings of your address. Just add a single plus sign after your email address and then insert any combination of words or numbers to create a personalized version of your main email address. All emails sent to the new email address will end up in your inbox, but you can easily filter them.
6. Master the Search Function
When looking for a specific old email message, the worst thing you can do is go through your inbox page by page, scanning subject lines with your eyes, hoping to spot it. The message in question could be hiding on the second page, but it could also be twenty pages away. What's worse, you could miss it without realizing and waste hours of your time.
Instead, we recommend you take advantage of the search function and use it to narrow down the number of suspects to a manageable figure. You can search for a specific sender, keywords included in the subject line, or a business address included in an email signature.
Gmail and many other email services and applications support advanced search operators that you can use to filter your results even more. Recently, Google introduced search chips for Gmail to help users manage emails effectively and avoid email overload. Search chips are basically automatic search filters that can be activated with a single click to perform an advanced search. They appear directly below the search box as users type their search queries.
Right now, search chips let you narrow down search results by sender, time frame, the presence of an attachment, and more. Multiple search chips can be used at the same time, making it easy to find a single email inside an overloaded inbox.
7. Don't Use Email for News
In recent years, websites have developed an annoying habit of asking visitors for their email address. They often provide various reasons (Don't miss the latest news! Get a huge discount! Limited offer!) why visitors should give them their personal information, promising to never send any junk email messages.
As attractive as the idea of discount coupons and the latest news delivered straight to your inbox may sound, you should resist it and keep your personal email address to yourself. We can promise you that most subscriptions you sign up for will end up losing their appeal very soon, and the same goes for newsletters.
To save your personal email address from clutter, you can set up a junk email address intended specifically for online subscriptions. RSS readers like Feedly are great for keeping up with the news because they make it simple to manage dozens of subscriptions.
8. Open Additional Communication Channels
Sometimes the best way to manage email overload is to avoid using email in the first place. These days, there are so many other communication apps available to businesses and individuals alike that keeping open just one communication channel doesn't make much sense anymore.
Informal messages between team members can take place on apps such as Slack, Discord, or Microsoft Teams. The details of projects large and small can be discussed on Trello, Asana, Write, or some other team collaboration platform. Instead of sending documents and other files as attachments, it's usually faster and more convenient to share them using Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
9. Become a Better Writer
Most email management best practices focus on managing the emails that others send to you, but what about the emails you send to others? You might be surprised by just how much time the average person spends writing email messages and how much of this time is wasted because of poor email writing habits. Unlike official letters, most business and personal emails don’t need to look pretty or use formal language. As long as you’ve conveyed the intended message, you can click the send button.
When writing an email message, try not to bog down the recipient with unnecessary information. If you miss something important, the person on the other side can request the missing information with a few clicks.
Instead of writing the same phrases over and over again, we recommend you install a system-wide text expander to reduce entire sentences into a few letters. The best text expanders available are not free, but they pay for themselves very quickly.
10. Familiarize Yourself with Email Overload Solutions
We’ve already mentioned Clean Email several times in this article, and you probably already see just how useful modern email overload solutions can be. While it’s possible to manage email overload even without them, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by automating everything that can be automated.
Learn How to Manage Emails Automatically with Clean Email
Clean Email is an easy-to-use bulk email cleaner with powerful filters and intelligent rules that allow it to segment your inbox into relevant groups efficiently. With all emails organized into easy to review bundles, you can shift your focus from individual emails and remove, archive, move, or label entire groups of emails at the same time.
Thanks to the Unsubscriber feature, you can unsubscribe from all active subscriptions with a single click or conveniently choose specific newsletters that you no longer want to receive. If you’re not afraid to take your email management to the next level (and you shouldn’t be considering how easy to use Clean Email is), you can explore Automation features to apply any action to new emails coming to your inbox without any manual work.
Email overload is a serious problem that keeps many people from being productive and costs businesses millions in lost time. But for every problem there is a solution, and even email overload is no exception. With Clean Email, you can easily automate email management with minimal effort and for free.