Welcome back to That’s What Pea Said…
Email anxiety is when you are feeling an overwhelming sense of dread before opening your inbox and checking your emails. Unfortunately, this can to further anxieties and email hoarding. Although not an official disorder, the symptoms are closely linked to those of generalised anxiety disorders. It’s reported that there is an increase in seemingly confident professionals who are feeling anxious and overwhelmed because of the number of digitals communications which are flowing in their direction and as with all anxieties, if these symptoms are ignored this can lead to further anxiety inducing activities.
With an increase in our use in social media and technology, it is hardly surprising that the number of digital communications which we receive is also on the rise. Unfortunately, unlike postal communications which would be delivered once a day, our digital inboxes are open 24/7 and just as quickly as we’re responding to emails, we’re open and accepting more. Our inboxes can feel as though they’re constantly overflowing and are a never-ending cycle of communications and expectations.
In order to cope with this constant work flow, we have created an unwritten email etiquette which has actually perpetuated the situation and are emails have become an ever greater source of stress and frustrations.
Consensus shows that common inbox fears are caused by:
– Fear of not being able to answer
– Fear of doing something wrong
– Fear of forgetting something
– Fear of receiving complaints
– Fear of urgency
– Fear of having to solve a problem and being unable to do so
All of these are understandable fears, but how can we tackle them and prevent inbox anxiety?
✉ Plan particular times of the day to answer emails:
These times will vary depending on your working hours and schedule, however for a regular working day I would suggest first thing in the morning and then again after lunch. There is no right or wrong time allocation and it’s important to figure out what works for you. If receiving notifications makes your anxious, or you feel as though you’re being chased, turn them off. By creating a structure, you are taking control.
✉ Create Template Replies:
Do you find yourself often repeating yourself or sending similar replies?
Creating a template can be a great time saver, which you can simply copy, paste and send.
✉ Keep responses short and sweet:
When trying to remain professional or efficient it’s easy to overthink and over sending. Not only does this mean that you’re spending too long drafting, re-drafting and proofing emails before pressing send, it also leads to the danger of over-complicating straightforward issues and causing confusing. Type up you key points as bullet points and then adapt these into coherent sentences. This ensures that all key points are covered and therefore there’s less chance of confusion, which may lead to further anxiety.
✉ Prioritise how to tackle a new email:
When you receive an email do you need to: delete, archive, reply, action of mark for reading later? Either keep a ‘to-do’ folder in your inbox, or have a to-do list written elsewhere. This allows you to prioritise how you respond to emails and keeps track of what you need to follow up and when you need to do so.
✉ Clear The Backlog:
Masses of unopened emails are due to cause anxiety so tackle the backlog. The changes are that an email sent 3 years ago will not longer be relevant so delete it. Also take the opportunity to unsubscribe from any newsletters which are of no use to you. It’s make such a big difference with minimal effort.
If you’re receiving too many emails, it may be that you need to delegate to another member of your team, or outsource additional support. Remember to weigh the costs against productivity and potential profit.
✉ Create strategies to prevent future overload:
You can set up strategies to streamline your emails into suitable inboxes, you can also implement some of the above suggestions to help you keep on top of your inboxes and prevent future anxieties and overload.
✉ Conduct more meetings over the phone or face to face:
Where possible, have verbal correspondence to prevent the need for electronic communications.
Do you suffer from email anxiety?
Do you have any additional suggestions for easing it?
Let me know in the comments below:
Thanks for reading…