How to Keep Your Email Inbox From Running Your Life

The abundance of emails is commonplace these days. The typical user checks email 36 times an hour. Constant connection makes it easier than ever to send emails – whenever, wherever. However, this means that the recipients are often bogged down and buried in email overload. The challenge is being efficient and proficient at sifting through your inbox and getting down to business.


Brevity is key

Many email writers are implementing the 3 sentences rule when it comes to crafting correspondence. Restricting messages to three sentences or less ensures brevity, forgoes fluff, and forces you to focus on the essential details. If a longer discourse is required, have the conversation in person, over the phone, or on company-wide social platforms like Slack that will better facilitate collaboration.

While there are outliers of long-form messages, email is best used for short, succinct communication. Long email threads take up prime real estate in your inbox.


Dealing with the sheer volume of emails can be daunting. Take the Inbox-Zero approach to maintaining your inbox by addressing each and every message.

If you prefer to check your email first thing in the morning, it’s good practice to immediately delete non-pertinent content, respond to easy emails right away then delete, and tag the rest to be dealt with later. If the task in the email can be delegated, forward it immediately to the appropriate person.

The average employee spends almost one-third of the workweek reading and answering emails. Luckily, there are many email management tools and plugins that help you prioritize:

  • Boomerang lets you set reminders for follow-up and response.
  • Priority Inbox splits your inbox into categories: important and unread, starred, and everything else.
  • ActiveInbox allows you to turn the emails into tasks and tracks each to ensure you complete it.
  • SaneBox learns to sort through all of your incoming emails and filters out non-priority messages.
  • Rapportive shows you LinkedIn profiles of your correspondents to help you respond quickly.
  • Feedly aggregates your news which allows you to unsubscribe to newsletters and de-clutter your inbox.

Find a balance in checking emails

If left unattended, emails will build up quickly. When hundreds of emails flood your inbox on a daily basis, you need to assess quickly. Find a balance between checking your email every other day and checking it every second. While it’s important to clear out your inbox as much and as quickly as possible, you should set some limits in order to achieve that elusive work/life balance like only checking emails at certain times of the day (hint: not at the dinner table).

Emails are a necessary part of your work life but can quickly spin out of control. Emails were once carefully crafted luxuries but now, thanks to technology and ubiquitous connection, are a depository for anything and everything. Adopting these tips and tools will make your inbox, and your life, much more productive.

How do you deal with email overload? Tell us in the comments!