This is How to Manage Email Overload

11 Tips to Manage Email Overload at Work

Are you experiencing email overload? Wondering how you could tame your inbox and free time for other tasks?

Cody Duval

Last updated: March 19, 2024

7 mins read

FACT: Everyone experiences email overload at some point. There is just no escaping it.

Unfortunately, it’s also not something that you should ever leave untreated. Why, because the result is usually a mix of high levels of stress, anxiety, and frustration.

The good news is that overcoming email overload isn’t actually that hard. Sure, it requires you to change some habits but it’s nothing that you couldn’t do in a couple of days.

Before I show you what these are, though, let’s evaluate if you really experience email overload.

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6 Signs that you’re experiencing an email overload

Let’s see, if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you might be subject to email overload.

#1. You are constantly checking your email

Feeling compelled to check your email frequently, even outside of work hours or during leisure time, is a sign that your inbox is a cluttered mess. If you find yourself checking your inbox compulsively or feeling anxious when you haven’t checked it in a while, you may need to manage email overload.

#2. You have difficulty keeping up

Struggling to keep up with the volume of incoming messages despite spending significant time managing unread messages will feel overwhelming, and you will find it challenging to stay organized and responsive.

#3. You constantly feel overwhelmed.

Feeling overwhelmed or stressed when faced with a large number of unread emails? Yep, you’re overloaded with emails. If the thought of opening your inbox fills you with dread or if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of messages, it’s time to make your inbox clutter free.

#4. You’re missing deadlines

Are you struggling to meet deadlines, frequently missing important emails, or finding it difficult to respond promptly to critical messages? This could be a sign that your email habits are hindering your productivity and effectiveness.If you find yourself frequently missing deadlines or opportunities due to email-related issues, it’s a clear indication that you need to reevaluate your email management practices.

#5. You’re not as productive as you once were

Experiencing a decline in productivity despite spending significant time on email management is also a result of having too many emails. If you find that you’re spending more time on email-related tasks than on meaningful work or that your productivity has decreased over time, email overload may be to blame.

#6. You have difficulty focusing at work

Difficulty focusing on tasks or projects due to constant interruptions from incoming emails also happens when you have too many emails. If you find that email notifications are constantly diverting your attention or that you’re unable to concentrate on important tasks due to email-related distractions, it’s a clear indication that you need to address the issue.

So, what should you do?

As I said earlier in this guide, overcoming email overload isn’t that difficult. Sure, it requires some work, but it does not require you to dramatically change your ways.

11 ways to overcome email overload

#1. Evaluate your email habits

The first step to managing email overload is identifying the flaws in your email habits. For some, it might get too many newsletters and junk mail filling up their inbox. 

Others might have a lot of important but not needed emails. Knowing these problems can help you figure out why you have email overload.

Things that need your attention could be:

  • You might need to unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t need
  • Set up filters to sort emails automatically, 
  • Or make a system to highlight important messages. 

When you understand what’s causing your email overload, you can fix it and take control of your inbox again.

#2. Try using other means of internal communication

Although email is a pretty useful communication tool, not every chat has to be through it. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your email interactions limited for important discussions. For messages like updates, follow ups or general questions use instant messaging apps.

Using these messaging apps can sometimes make a formal setting feel more casual, but luckily, we have more formal options like Slack, Shortcut or Google Chat.

But what if this messaging could be done within your customer services software? Our software lets you do that. 

For teams oriented toward customer support, Keeping has the internal notes feature. This feature eliminates the hassle of having to forward emails. You can write your comments or questions for the team and have a discussion right beside the customer conversation.

Using messaging apps to manage email overload.

Whether you use a third-party app or software with inbuilt chat features, not using email will reduce the number of emails you need to deal with. 

#3. Delete, archive, and unsubscribe unwanted emails

Not every email you receive belongs to your inbox. This is why, to manage email overload, we have to delete, archive, and unsubscribe features.

Managing email overload by unsubscribing from unwanted messages.


For example: 

  • Delete emails that you don’t find relevant or important: Spam messages, irrelevant promotions, outdated notifications and duplicate emails. 
  • Archive messages that you can’t delete for various reasons. For example, any reference emails, completed tasks, legal or financial documents, etc. None of those need to be there in your inbox, and once archived, they can be easily retrieved when needed. 
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters, marketing emails, mailing lists, and automated notifications. 

#4. Use the two-minute rule to process emails faster

The two-minute rule says that if you find an email you can deal with in two minutes or less, you should do it right away. This rule is about making quick decisions and being efficient. It helps stop small tasks from piling up in your inbox and saves you time later.

By responding promptly to short and easy emails, you can prevent them from cluttering your inbox, helping you manage email overload.

To use the two-minute rule well:

  • Check Emails Fast: Look at each email quickly to see if you can handle it in two minutes or less.
  • Prioritize: Deal with the urgent and important emails first, especially the ones that fit the two-minute rule.

Dealing with quick tasks right away saves time. You won’t need to keep going back to emails or have a big pile of them waiting for you. This makes you more productive and efficient, making the two-minute rule a great way not to overload your emails.

#5. Set dedicated times for dealing with emails

An average American worker is spending 2.6 hours merely on sending and answering emails. 

Choosing specific times to check your email is a smart way to get more done and stay focused at work. Instead of constantly looking at your inbox whenever a new email pops up, you set aside certain times during the day just for checking and replying to important messages.

By doing this, you can concentrate better on your other tasks without getting interrupted by emails all the time. It helps you work more efficiently and get things done faster.

#6. Turn off notifications

People don’t just check their email by opening their inbox. Many also glance at the notifications that pop up on their computer screens whenever they receive an email, losing a few seconds each time. 

Create time slots during your work day when you want to be productive and turn off email notifications. 

Doing this can assist you to effectively manage email overload and ensure you’re not sidetracked by new messages. Also, by cutting down on the notifications you get, you can stick to the first plan of checking and replying to emails only at specific times.

#7. Separate your work and personal inbox

Most of us end up sitting in our email inbox even after the workday is over. This happens because there is no distinction between the work and personal inbox—hence no work life balance. 

Separating your work and personal email inboxes is crucial to managing email overload effectively. By creating this distinction, you establish clear boundaries that help maintain focus and productivity. 

Having separate inboxes enables better prioritization and allocation of attention. Compartmentalizing your emails allows you to address work-related messages without the distraction of personal matters, and vice versa.

#8. Use canned responses and email templates to respond and process emails faster

Using canned responses to manage email overload is like having pre-prepared tools for quick fixes in a handy toolbox.

Essentially, canned responses are pre-written email templates or snippets that you can quickly insert into your messages, saving you time and effort in crafting individual responses from scratch.

Keeping comes with this feature as well. Instead of typing out the same responses repeatedly, you can simply select the appropriate pre-written template and customize it as needed.

Using canned responses to process email faster

Canned responses help reduce cognitive load by streamlining the process of composing emails. Instead of constantly thinking about how to phrase your replies, you can rely on pre-existing templates, freeing up mental bandwidth for other tasks.

#9. Set up automated responses

Imagine never worrying about replying to mundane messages again. Setting up automated responses can make that dream a reality. 

These pre-written messages are like your personal assistant, instantly replying to emails that do not require your direct attention. They save you time and keep your responses consistent, like having a helpful sidekick managing your inbox.

With automated responses, you can breeze through routine messages, providing quick info or letting people know you’re away without lifting a finger. 

It’s like having a 24/7 customer service rep on standby. Just make sure your messages are friendly and up-to-date, and you’re all set to start managing email overload while impressing your contacts with your speedy replies.

#10. Delegate messages to others

You’re not a superhero; you cannot do it all. Your inbox often contains messages that could be better handled by someone else due to their expertise in a particular topic or their availability to devote more time to the task. 

By finding out who can handle these requests and giving them the tasks, you make your workload lighter and make sure things get done well by the right person. After you figure out who should do what, tell them directly. Make sure to explain the task clearly, including any important details or instructions, so they understand what needs to be done.

#11. Invest in an email management tool

Terrifying, isn’t it? It can take you up to 23 minutes to get back into focus after an email interruption.

We don’t want interruptions to hamper your productivity and this is why we created Keeping. Keeping is an email management software designed to keep email easy and organized for customer service teams.

Keeping comes with multiple features that help manage email overload, such as:

  • Ticket assignment: You can automate or manually assign tickets that would be better handled by someone else.
  • Agent collaboration: Collaboration features such as assigning messages, sharing internal notes, and updating the status of the ticket.
  • Canned responses: You can create and insert customized canned responses to reduce the amount of effort required to reply to redundant emails.
  • Internal notes: No more forwarding emails for internal communication because Keeping comes with internal notes. With this feature, your agents can talk right beside customer conversations.

Wrap up

Email overload is common but it isn’t a problem you cannot overcome. With the right tools and tips, email overload can be completely avoided. 

As soon as you start feeling overloaded by email make sure to take action. Being proactive with your email habits can also be of great help. 

Keeping the perfect email management software to manage and automatically sort incoming emails at affordable costs—and deliver exceptional customer service. 

If you feel like you need a tool—check out Keeping today!

Cody Duval

Cody is the Founder and CEO of Keeping. He's a self-professed nerd about processes and operations and loves helping others grow and build their businesses.

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