6 Ways to Stop Email Overload

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on November 21, 2011
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A recent report from market research firm The Radicati Group offers some sobering statistics about email use. The number of global email accounts is expected to grow from 3.1 billion in 2011 to almost 4.1 billion by the end of 2015 — an average annual growth rate of 7 percent. Radicati estimates that roughly 350 billion emails will be sent worldwide this year and that the number will increase to 507 billion by 2013.

If it feels like you’re getting close to a billion emails yourself, here are six ways to cut back on your correspondence.

  1. Limit your in-box time. Do you end up reading the same emails over and over again every time you check your in-box?  Schedule specific times to check mail (e.g., once an hour). Read the accumulated messages, act upon or delete them — and move on.
  2. Send fewer emails. Simple logic dictates that the fewer emails you send, the fewer you’ll receive. Communicate in person or by phone whenever possible. (Consider, too, that verbal exchanges may be more appropriate than written correspondence if your message is sensitive or confidential.)
  3. Filter incoming emails. Set up two different in-boxes — one for people you need to be in touch with on a frequent basis and one where you’re just copied on status reports.
  4. Use your spam filter. Most email providers offer built-in protection against unwanted messages. This is a helpful tool for cutting down on emails you know you’ll never read.
  5. Unsubscribe! How many newsletters or blogs have you signed up for thinking it was something you absolutely had to have? How many end up being completely useless, yet still clutter up your in-box? Find the “unsubscribe” option, usually at the end of the email, and take the necessary action.
  6. Control updates. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites offer the ability to get your messages twice — once on their website and once in your email inbox. You don’t need duplicate messages! Unsubscribe or change your subscription preferences to receive fewer (or no) updates. You’ll see how quickly this lightens your email load.
Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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