Focus on the good: How to manage too many emails.

These strategies and tactics will help manage the problem of too many emails, reducing your stress and helping you find more time for what’s important. It’s time to deliver your best work.

Around the world 269 billion emails are generated every day. The average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

Assuming you spend 3 minute reading and processing each email, you would need 6 hours each day to stay current.

That’s why it feels like you’re spending all of your time in email and why oftentimes email gets a bad rep.

I feel your pain.

It’s almost 5pm on Friday and there are  over 180 unread messages in my inbox. You may have even more.

Email is a necessary aspect of business. The behaviors and expectations surrounding how emails are handled is another thing entirely. You have a choice. Your actions and what you tolerate as a professional will influence how these little email indicators impact you.

Change isn’t easy. For many of us our bad habits have developed over decades. Even I didn’t realize until recently that the first email system was launched in 1971.

Email can conjour feelings of evil, but we’re not helpless – we can use this tool for good. That’s what I want to talk about today.

Emails are like rose bushes

A neighbor has several beautiful rose bushes in her front yard. Every day while walking the dog, we pass by and admire the beauty she’s created. Even when there are no roses blooming, the anticipation of the next bloom keeps us glancing.

Every so often we see our neighbor outside tending to those beautiful rose bushes. And almost every time, there’s a moment when she pulls back with a sudden ‘ouch’ and maybe even a few other more softly spoken curse words.

Immediately I think…that’s why we don’t see everyone with rose bushes. There’s too much pain involved to get just a few weeks of beauty.

Just like that rose bush, email can feel like it’s more trouble than benefit.

How to mange too many emails

These strategies and tactics will help manage the ‘too many emails’ problem, reducing your stress helping you find more roses than thorns.

Step One: Focus on the beauty, no the thorns.

There is often a visceral response when I mention managing emails. Changing that response is our first objective. If you see email as good or evil you’ve given away control and your are reacting instead of responding.

Email is only a tool.

It brings spam, yes. And it brings good news such as:

  • A business colleague sending you a client referral
  • Your boss congratulating you for handling that crisis with finesse
  • A client shares how you’ve positively impacted their business and thanks you and recognizes how you added value.
  • You receive a happy birthday messages from a friend that lives a thousand miles away.
  • An expert shares an article with you that is exactly what you needed today.

Get the idea? Not all email is bad.

Maybe it’s a certain sender that stirs negative feelings or maybe a subject line. Recognizing what triggers your negative reaction, and choosing to make the necessary changes to improve your experience, is the real secret to managing too many emails.

Remember, email is only a tool.


1. Look at your email inbox right now and identify at least five emails with positive impact. Do this every day for at least one week.

2. Identify the triggers of your negative reactions to sending and receiving emails. How can you turn the negative into a positive?

Many of you will have received this post by way of an email. Isn’t irony grand?

This is only the first step. Next we’ll look at step two:

Design Your Inbox Experience: How to manage too many emails.