8 Ways to Avoid E-mail Anxiety

effects_of_email_anxietyE-mail anxiety is one of the major reasons companies and individuals hire me. It comes at us constantly at an ever increasing pace and is not going away.  E-mail should be no more  urgent than paper mail, but it’s turned into a continuous interruption for so many people. Don’t be like this guy suffering from e-mail overload.  Apply the principles below to take control of your Inbox:

  1. End every day with an empty Inbox (well at least no more that a screen full)
  2. To get a fresh start move all old messages (no older that a week old) to a separate folder. Schedule time every day to process your old messages (see the TRAF process explained in item 4) until they are cleaned up.
  3. Process your e-mail at specific times no more than three or four times per day. Tell your co-workers about your schedule to set expectations.
  4. Use a repeatable process to work through all messages from top to bottom. I suggest the simple TRAF process. Throw it away. Refer it (or delegate), Take Action do it now if you can do it in 2 minutes of less if not convert  it into a task to get it out of your Inbox, File it.
  5. Drag and drop e-mails to convert them to tasks or appointments when appropriate (get them out of your Inbox).
  6. Don’t use your Inbox as a task list. It’s a shipping and receiving dock not a long term storage facility.
  7. Eliminate distracting “You’ve Got Mail” bells or alarms. Also turn off the Desktop Alert in Outlook that appears in the lower right hand corner of your screen when a new message arrives.
  8. Change your default Outlook view to Calendar (by default it’s set to Inbox).  Then only go to your Inbox when it’s time to process E-mail (see number 3).  Looking at your Inbox all day diverts your focus from your real work to reading mail…a major distraction.  When you have to create a new message either use the New drop down box in the upper left hand corner of all Outlook views choose Mail Message or just use the keyboard shortcut key CTL+SHIFT+M to create a message from anywhere within Outlook.

A word of warning. Don’t use these productivity principles to spend more time working. Use them to free up more time for yourself and your family.

Register for our Free eCourse to learn how to integrate our 7 Productivity Principles into your daily work.

Learn to use Outlook to  control your e-mail and manage your time with our premium online training program Master Your Workload with Outlook.

For more information about building your own membership site talk to the experts at Wishlist Master.


  1. This process is exactly the way I work with my own clients! It is just so simple – but not at all easy to implement. Many of my clients are like the guy you described on vacation – addicted and overwhelmed. But it is quite gratifying to walk them through this process and watch them implement it. The difference it makes is immediate and often staggering. One client is now quite gleeful when using her delete key! And she got through a massively overloaded inbox in a two hour block of time. Now she only checks email periodically, and it is substantially empty at the end of the day.

  2. WorkloadMaster says


    Thank you for your comment, I’m pleased you use the same techniques. I agree, it is a great feeling when little things like this make a big difference in someone’s life. That’s what keeps me doing this.