Email Stress Is Real: How to Manage Your Inbox for Less Freakout (PHOTOS)

Email Stress Is Real: How to Manage Your Inbox for Less Freakout (PHOTOS)

woman stressed by looking at emailsShamed to disclose the number of emails you have in your inbox right now? Guilty that you haven't read at least half? Or are you annoyed with your nervous tic of email-checking throughout the day? You better switch something up, sister, because managing your email poorly is bad for your health.

That's right. According to a new UK study, wonky email habits -- like, um, the ones we mentioned above and which we all do -- are linked to higher levels of stress.

Now, no one's asking you to step away from your inbox or delete your Gmail account. (Yet.) But developing a healthier relationship with your inbox is in order. These tips will send you on your way.



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  • Don't Email When You Don't Have To


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    Have a neighbor who loves to email? Suggest she just pop over and describe that funny cat video in PERSON instead. Same goes if you work in an office. "Tell people ... to come and talk with you rather than sending you emails," says Aimee Bernstein, author of Stress Less Achieve More: Simple Ways to Turn Pressure into a Positive Force in Your Life. "Do the same so you can stretch your legs."

  • Turn Off Push Notifications


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    Sounds crazy, but "receiving an alert every minute for a new email is productivity Kryptonite," says Alex Moore, CEO of Boomerang, a free email productivity app. "Not to mention, it takes 64 seconds to recover from being interrupted by an email."

  • Spring Clean Your Subscriptions


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    Opt out of email subscriptions by using an app like Unrollme, suggests Rashelle Isip, an organization, time management, and productivity blogger at the lifestyle blog "[It] allows you to view all your email subscriptions at once and instantly unsubscribes from lists," Isip explains.

    More from The Stir: 5 Most Humiliating Email Blunders & How to Avoid Them

  • Master the Art of the RSVP


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    An out-of-control inbox is no excuse for bad manners. If you open an email, immediately respond. At the very least, "email the person and let them know you're up to your eyeballs and will get back to them in the next couple of days," says Bernstein.

  • Have Designated "Email" Times


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    There's really no point in scrolling through your email while waiting in line at the grocery store when you're not going to reply until you get home. "It's more efficient to check your email at designated times of the day," Isip says. Try checking your inbox at the top of every hour or maybe just after lunch and dinner -- whatever suits your needs.

  • Keep a Distance Between Email Addresses


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    Have more than one email address? "A good rule of thumb is to keep certain types of email messages contained to specific accounts," says Isip. For instance, think about relegating ads, coupons, and newsletters to just one, so you don't have to sort through and weed them out in BOTH.

  • Add to Your Archive


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    "Move messages you no longer have an immediate need for to an archived folder," advises Moore. "We can only focus on seven things at once, so that's how many old message you want in your inbox at any given time -- the seven messages that need your attention."

    More from The Stir: Could You Go an Entire Day Without Email?

  • Take a Minute to Read Each Email


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    Most people "skim, then skip to the next email," says Maura Thomas, author of Personal Productivity Secrets. "If you can read it in 10 seconds ... allow yourself an extra 50 seconds more to figure out what to do with it." Making yourself stop and think will help you better manage your inbox and, Thomas adds, "protect you from checking your email when you don't really have time."

  • Don't Treat Your Inbox Like a To-Do List


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    Trust us, it will get verrrrrry long. Instead, "create another to-do list electronically or on paper," says organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal. Remember paper?

  • Have a Method to Your Madness


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    An overflowing inbox can cause you to miss something important (or, on the other hand, cause you to feel so overwhelmed that you don't reply to ANYTHING). A better strategy: "Organize emails into categories," says Rosenthal. And when you're ready to reply, "answer only those that are priority first."

    More from The Stir: Is It Okay to Check Your Partner's Phone & Emails to Make Sure He's Not Cheating On You?

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