How to reduce your stress with email

Georgetown University Computer Science Professor, Cal Newport in his book, A world without email shares, “…as long as we remain committed to a workflow based on constant, ad hoc messaging, our Paleolithic brain will remain in a state of low-grade anxiety.”

The concept of being overloaded with information is not new with many of us simply accepting that the inconvenience of an overflowing inbox is “just how it is” in business today.  Whilst in general terms, we might accept the role email in particular has on our lives, the anxiety it generates can take its toll, not just on productivity, but also physical and mental health.

The anxiety manifests in many forms, from checking emails every five minutes, to checking emails the moment you wake up, during weekends and even whilst on holiday.

It can be hard to feel in control of our inboxes.  Especially when, as soon as you do get to a point of comfort, another batch of emails drops into your inbox to be dealt with. But this one simple strategy could change it all!

Change How You Open Your Email Program

In the early 2000’s, I was invited to work with Microsoft and their teams in the Asia Pacific region to train them in a process designed to help better manage how they used Microsoft Outlook and email in general.

One of the things we shared in the program was the idea of switching the view Microsoft Outlook opened into on start up from Inbox to Calendar view.

When I start work with clients, almost ALL of them start up their email program in the Inbox rather than the calendar view.  Doing this can be one of the biggest time wasters if you are not focused, particularly in the morning.

Have you ever opened up your Inbox, started reading and then when you looked at the time realized you had just lost 30 minutes or more?  You are not the only one!

The simple process of changing your email program so it opens in calendar view reminds YOU of YOUR priorities every time you open your email program.

Of course, you can switch straight over to the inbox, but at least you are making a conscious choice to do so knowing that the meetings, events and activities you have on for that day are scheduled in your calendar.

Whilst this simple change may seem like common sense, they often are not common practice.  Leveraging our productivity does not always mean adding more, sometimes it means challenging how we currently do things with the goal of reducing stress and creating a sense of bringing our workload back into balance.

Want help getting productive with Microsoft Office programs?

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Check out some of my previous posts.

You’ll always find someone on the phone at parties
You really don’t need to know EVERYTHING!
You may already have what you need you just don’t realise it.

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