Email Overwhelm – Overcome it in 5 Steps

Are you drowning in email? Got dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of messages in your inbox waiting for you to sort through and respond to them? Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about clicking the “check mail” button? Don’t panic! You can overcome that flood of email!


1) Use a Good Spam Filter

Check with your website host to find out what spam filtering options are available. I don’t recommend the challenge response type that forces anyone sending an email to you to request approval before their email can reach you – this option can often frustrate potential clients or customers and they’ll look elsewhere. Instead try an option like Spam Assassin(tm) or Mailwasher(tm).

If you prefer using webmail, consider setting up GMail to use your email address with it so GMail can filter your mail.

2) Report Spam to Teach Your Filters

Once you have a spam filter setup take time to read about it so know how the filters work. Many learn by watching what you report as spam or rescue from the filter.

3) Unsubscribe Ruthlessly

I’d venture a guess that most of us are subscribed to far too many newsletters and other lists. Start using that unsubscribe link. You may find that you can follow your favorite stores, mentors, or friends better with a blog rss reader or on social networks like Twitter or Facebook.

4) Recruit Help

What types of email do you receive that you don’t need to handle personally? Talk with your virtual assistant about what you can outsource such as customer service issues or pre-sales type questions.

5) Automate & Template

Technology allows us to automate many aspects of email handling from auto-filing mail into the proper folders or labels, to sending an auto-reply to messages with certain requests or topics.

Create templates for your most common replies so they’re ready to use and you don’t have to type the same information over and over again. Learn to use the time-saving options available in your email program.

It may take an hour or two initially to become familiar with all the options but it will save you hours in the long run.

These 5 steps are what I followed to reduce my mail volume from 1,000+ emails a day down to 500-600 most days.  Tomorrow I’ll share tips on how I process my mail to get through it quickly.

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7 Comments

  1. Great tips, Michelle! My email is overwhelming. I think I will have to break down and start unsubscribing!

  2. I use the mail client in my mac and I have my incoming mail go to specific folders. This allows me to see, right away, the emails I need to deal with on the spot, such as new orders, and inquiries. The rest goes into a box I can look at when I have time, and can delete easily if I run out of time!
    This is invaluable to me.

  3. Great tips, Michelle! My email is overwhelming. I think I will have to break down and start unsubscribing!

    Several months ago I did another mass unsubscribe of any newsletter I wasn’t reading regularly and my email volume went down significantly. I wasn’t reading them anyway but they were adding to my guilt of having unread messages in my inbox.

    One thing I kept it mind that made it easier was that I can always resubscribe later when I’m ready to learn whatever they’re teaching. I have a list saved that’s newsletters by topic with titles noted so when I am ready to learn about Topic X, I can go resubscribe.

  4. Yes! I have filters setup in GMail that take similar actions for me. Client work it immediately stars and places in my action list. Coaching program emails get filtered into my coaching folder so I can work on them at the time I have set aside for that. I’ve found it really helps to be able to process quickly and work more effectively when the rules/filters are setup well.

    I use the mail client in my mac and I have my incoming mail go to specific folders. This allows me to see, right away, the emails I need to deal with on the spot, such as new orders, and inquiries. The rest goes into a box I can look at when I have time, and can delete easily if I run out of time!
    This is invaluable to me.

  5. Yes! I have filters setup in GMail that take similar actions for me. Client work it immediately stars and places in my action list. Coaching program emails get filtered into my coaching folder so I can work on them at the time I have set aside for that. I’ve found it really helps to be able to process quickly and work more effectively when the rules/filters are setup well.

    I use the mail client in my mac and I have my incoming mail go to specific folders. This allows me to see, right away, the emails I need to deal with on the spot, such as new orders, and inquiries. The rest goes into a box I can look at when I have time, and can delete easily if I run out of time!
    This is invaluable to me.

    I love the rules feature! I have a lot of them and they are awesome! ha ha!

  6. Thanks for the advice. I need to unsubscribe to some of the many emails I get. And I never thought about templates. That would be quite the time saver!

  7. Email templates save SO much time. Plus it makes it easy for someone else to help you with email if you have an emergency come up or just need a day away. :)

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