Eliminate Email Anxiety

It’s hard to think of anything we assign more attention and anxiety to on a daily basis than email.

Over the years I’ve experimented with literally dozens of plans to increase productivity, improve flow, and lower work-related stress.

During the holidays I re-read parts of The 4-Hour Workweek and discovered that implementing #3 below radically improved my ability to focus and lowered work anxiety.

Simply put, Tim was right about this one – it’s a game-changer.

6 Quick Tips to Eliminate Email Anxiety

  1. Disconnect email from your phone. Particularly if you work from home.
    • You will find you check your phone less often in general.
    • If for some reason this is not possible, turn off sound notifications and put your phone in a drawer or another room while you work.
  2. Never check email (or social accounts, for that matter) first thing in the morning.
    • Breakfast before email.
    • For you Lean Gains types (who don’t eat until noon) morning routine before email.
  3. Check email no more than 1-3x daily. The fewer the better. Here’s why:

    Email Twice a Day

    Source: The Four Hour Workweek (Expanded and Updated, 2009) Pg #97

  4. Try GTD/ Tim Biden’s “One-Touch” email system.one touch email
    • In combination with @waitingfor and @action flags (also GTD recommendations) you should be on your way to fewer emails and lower inbox anxiety.
  5. Install Unroll.me [Editor’s note, 2017 – build your own unroll.me]
    • You can systematically “roll up” email newsletters that you don’t want to unsubscribe from. Then you can batch review, read, or take action upon them at your leisure.
  6. Install Boomerang
    • This allows you to respond and “send later,” as well as return something to your inbox if someone does not reply.
    • There are a 100 good reasons to install this Gmail plugin – but I use it to respond to emails when creative energy is already low – and set them to send first thing the following morning (freeing my morning for doing productive/ creative tasks that actually matter).

The previous 5 points I had already implemented with success, but the simple change of checking email only twice a day (right now I’m experimenting with 1 and 5 p.m.) has improved how I feel about work throughout the day more than any other single change I can remember making – ever.

Give it a shot.