Do emails drive you crazy? Are yours driving others crazy?

“Yes” and “yes” to both questions. {At least for me – and probably 90% of others!}

This week I chose one of the most common causes of everyday stress to tackle. We’ll look at 3 things:

  1. Why emails – or should I say the accumulation of emails – can be so draining
  2. How to make your inbox less stressful
  3. How to make YOUR emails less stressful for others {and more effective for you}


Most of us get a ton of stuff dumped into our inbox everyday. Unlike regular mail that takes someone $, time and a bit more thought to send, emails {while fabulous in some ways} enable anybody and any business to email away. And even when you take out the “non-necessities” pawing for your attention, your box is left with emails thatĀ  require:

  • decisions to be made {from easy to difficult}
  • actions to add to your to-do list {some that, at this point, may beĀ past due}

And with each passing day, the incoming messages – along with our stress levels – accumulate.


These are some things I’ve done recently to help with my own:

STEP 1: CLEAN UP: Having an empty inbox feels incredible. This past weekend, mine got to that point. This is how I did it {in about two FOCUSED hours}:

  • Delete what you can. DO IT QUICKER: Sort inbox by “From” {“sender} and go from there. By grouping this way, it’s much quicker to get rid of stuff.
  • As you are doing the above, unsubscribe from anything you don’t really need or love {hopefully this newsletter is NOT one of them!}. And increase your spam filter if needed.
  • Go through the remaining emails and handle each:2 Minutes or less: do right now; More Time Needed: move to relevant {or “active”} folder and note action to take in calendar or to-do list; Reference: move to “archive” or other relevant folder; Reading: move to reading folder. {Tip: Weekly, use specified down time to read through – starting with most appealing. When time is up, re-evaluate anything left: keep for next time or trash.}

Of course, my in-box didn’t stay that way. My plan to keep it minimally filled:

STEP 2: MAINTAIN: my plan moving forward:

  • Check AND handle emails only during set times during {not throughout} the day.
  • Turn OFF the email in box alert. Those little distractions add up.
  • Streamline email folders: I want to be able to: keep only what I really need {and can’t easily find on web}, archive it easily, and find it easily.
  • Use a separate email for on-line shopping / registrations.

If you’d like more in-depth info, check out this article I found at

Now, let’s turn the tables:


I know I’ve been in this category so this isn’t just outwardly directed! Here are some things to make our emails more user friendly – and effective:

  • Keep as brief as possible. Before clicking “send”, read back through to see what can be taken out.
  • Use “subject” line to sum up email. Or just use the subject for message period.
  • Make message scannable. Use bullets, bold the bottom line question/point so recipients can quickly know what you’d like them to do.
  • Consider breaking one long, complex message into several shorter emails each with specific subject heading. Or pick up the phone and call instead.
  • When sending to more than one person, specify who needs to see what if whole message isn’t applicable to all. And when CC-ing, make sure it’s really necessary.

If you have other tips to add, I’d love to hear!

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