Email stress is a real phenomenon. Researchers in Scotland have found that people are checking their emails much more frequently than they think.
The study shows that some people are checking emails 40 times every hour. You might consider that excessive but the chances are you are checking your email more frequently than you think. The “instant” culture we appear to live in is making people think they need to respond to emails quickly. This is helping fuel concerns and anxieties which are not necessary.
Few, if any, emails need a quick response. If anything needs absolute urgent, do it now, attention people phone each other to speak. Email is still perceived as written communication and is automatically thought of as slower. Pushing ourselves to answer immediately is not necessary.
Here are a couple of ways you can deal with this difficulty. Firstly, set yourself times of day when you deal with emails. Four times a day is all you need; some people manage very well on just once a day. I know of one online entrepreneur who checks his emails only once a week – and his income has gone UP when he cut DOWN his attention to emails..!
Change the automatic checking of your email system so it doesn’t keep connecting – log on manually when you want to, not when the computer says you should. Who is in charge here? You or a machine?
The next thing is to organise your email inbox so that it has separate folders, this enables you to see the priority of things as they come in. Using rules and filters you can automatically divert messages to these specific folders. This means you can instantly see which emails need quick responses and which ones can be left until later.
You can also use autoresponders to handle emails. For instance, if people who buy something from me send a message to my support email address, they get an instant reply with answers to my most frequently asked support questions. This means they get an immediate response, but I don’t have to do anything, except review the emails later in the day to see if further advice is needed. Almost always I don’t have to do anything.
Setting up specific email addresses for particular projects with separate autoresponders means you can manage your email easily. People get a quick response and then you only need review those instances where these responses need further information or clarification. It is a huge time saver. A good system for this is Get Response.
One final thing, if you are not sure what to do about an email ask yourself one question. What will be the worst thing to happen if I don’t reply right now? Often you will find nothing much will happen and that you can reply later on, in your own terms. That will significantly reduce your email stress.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+