According to Statista, at least 50 percent of all emails sent this year were spam. Given that by 2020, we’ll see approximately 320 billion daily emails, that’s a lot of spam. And that doesn’t even account from all the email notifications, marketing content, newsletters, and work emails.
To be frank, it’s overwhelming. We are already a society suffering under perpetual notification fatigue. We already have countless colleagues, acquaintances, and brands constantly vying for our attention.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that most of us simply lack the energy to deal with an inbox flooded with unnecessary emails.
The good news is that we don’t need to be. It may take a bit of finagling, but it’s entirely possible to reach the coveted inbox zero state. It starts with prioritization.
First, we’ll focus on the easy stuff – mailing lists and digests.
Look at each mailing list you’re subscribed to. When was the last time you actually read something from that mailing list? When was the last time you saw content that was relevant and interesting to you, and that you could not track down elsewhere?
If your answer is anything other than “today” or “yesterday,” then unsubscribe. It might take some time, but it’ll be worth it to cut off spam at the source. And as one more point to add to the above, if any of the mailing lists you’re subscribed to make you jump through hoops to cancel your subscription, just mark them as spam – because that’s what they are.
The same framework can be applied to email notifications from services like Facebook. You don’t need to know when someone comments on a Facebook post or likes something you shared. You presumably have push notifications for that.
Next, you’ll want to speak to your colleagues and co-workers. Ask them to connect with you on Slack or a similar messaging service if they need to reach you urgently. Work with them to reduce the number of unnecessary email chains and group emails.
And moreover, don’t be afraid to delete or archive emails that aren’t relevant to you. That’s a good segue into our last piece of advice. To keep your inbox in a manageable state, you’ll want to reframe your approach to email.
Whenever you receive an email, take a quick look at it.
- If it requires a response and that response will take two minutes or less, send it.
- If it doesn’t require a response, archive or delete it.
- If you cannot respond until later, set a deadline for your response – for instance, a deadline to finish a particular project – and then snooze the email until then.
For most of us, our email inbox is a constant source of anxiety and stress. But it doesn’t need to be. With a bit of effort and some reframing, it’s entirely possible to clear out the clutter and stop feeling so overwhelmed.