Coping with emails


Matthew Archibald, from Bupa’s wellbeing team, shares his hacks for cutting through the email noise.

Coming back from a well-earned break can feel like a long-distant memory when you open your inbox.

The sheer volume of emails in an inbox can make you feel overwhelmed and anxious.

But with a system and new habits, you can help keep on top of emails and find more time in your day by learning how to never miss an email, get rid of inbox cloggers and better prioritise your day. It will help you feel more in control of your workload by knowing what is there and planning time to get things done.

The quick wins:

  • Unsubscribe yourself from the emails you don’t need
  • Redirect any recurring emails that you don’t need to action straight away
  • Use your calendar reminders to follow up on an email – removing it from your mental load while making sure that it still gets finished
  • Block out time at the start of the day, or whenever works for you, to check through your emails and reply to emails
  • Triaging your inbox and flag messages for follow up if they don’t need your immediate attention so that you don’t forget them
  • Colour coding/ highlighting key emails coming from key stakeholders

If you redirect emails into a folder, with the press of a button you might find that hundreds of recurring emails are shifted from our inbox, so you can easily see what’s important. Such a simple task can really help relieve inbox anxiety.

I also find it helpful to highlight any emails that I’m just copied on. That way, I know if I've got 20 emails and 18 of them, I am just copied in on, I can prioritise the other two which are directly for me.

When you’re figuring out which emails you need to work on first ask yourself:

  1. Can I do it later or delegate?
  2. Will this take more than five minutes? Diarise it.
  3. Less than five minutes? Do it now!

I ask myself those three questions whenever I'm going through my inbox and it really helps me cut through to the priorities, clear messages quickly and feel on top of things.

Finally, try and switch off when you’re not working. Try and resist the urge to check emails on your phone and turn off notifications during certain times of the day. Just like your phone, you too need a recharge.