Saving Yourself from Email Overload


Photo via FreeDigitalPhotos user jesadaphorn

by Linda Castillo

Between my work email, personal email and blog email accounts, there are times I feel like I am drowning in a sea of incoming emails that never lets up. I am sure that I am not alone, in fact, according to an email study the average number of business-related emails sent and received is about 121 each day and expected to go up each year. Mind you that figure is just for work email and it doesn’t include our personal email inboxes, inboxes for our social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and text messages. Honestly, there are times when managing my email inboxes is such a daunting process.

I had a colleague that always maintained an empty email box. I was secretly envious of this feat because I imagined how a liberating having an empty email box must have felt like. While I have yet to achieve a completely empty work email box, using the following tips have helped declutter my email inboxes so that I can focus my time and energy on more pressing tasks (you know like shopping for new shoes from Nordstrom or planning my next vacation).

Organize your inbox – Set up your email inbox with folders logically categorized and subcategorized. I like to organize my work folders by project, meetings, etc.  It really is your own personal preference how you like to organize the folders so do what works best for you.

Set aside blocked times to review email – Checking your email sporadically throughout the day is so disruptive for me. I like to set aside three times during the day to review email, one time in the morning, afternoon and before I leave the office for the day.  While I have these set times to review the emails, it is almost impossible not to check my email inbox during off times. So since it is inevitable that I will take a peek at my email between blocked times, I try to check it only after I have completed a specific task or after a meeting has ended.

Take action immediately: When I first read an email, I immediately place it into a specific category: action, file or delete. This is also a good process because it helps you respond to emails in a timely manner too.

Semi-annual housekeeping: It’s good to do a semi-annual cleaning to remove yourself from email subscriptions that you are no longer interested in receiving. Rather than just click delete the next time that email arrives, simply take the extra minute to unsubscribe to the email. I also turn off unnecessary notifications on social media that can quickly overfill your email inbox. Tip: UnrollMe is a great service if you have hundreds of email subscriptions and it will pull up everything at once to unsubscribe in batches.

Use canned responses whenever possible:  Email templates are great if you are sending the same information repeatedly. For example, I get the same questions over and over again with incoming emails for Modern Latina and templates work great. At work, you can use templates to generate weekly/monthly reports and add in the new data for the time period.

Empty trash regularly: I like to empty the trash of my email account before I leave work. It’s a kind of cathartic process for me to end my day.


Photo via FreeDigitalPhotos user blackzheep

Follow these tips to see the message “Inbox Empty” and it will make you feel like you won the lottery (ok well almost anyways)! Let me know some tips that work for you.

Linda Castillo is the Founder and Executive Editor of She writes on topics that empower and inspire Latinas including art, motherhood, green living, culture, travel, and issues transforming the Latino community. Linda has earned a B.S. in Business and a M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University.