What is Email Overload?
Mobile technology, and our consequential constant accessibility, is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it means that whenever anything goes wrong, we’re aware of it almost instantly and able to react immediately, but for the 98% of communications that are non-urgent, well, we’re also probably aware of and reacting to those immediately too.
We workers are literally addicted to checking email and other digital messages 24/7, resulting in what we refer to as ‘Email Overload’. This informational overload, and in particular email overload, is leaving workers and managers in a chronic state of mental overload, taking a huge toll on employee productivity and dangerously compromising psychological safety in the workplace.
Recent scientific research has, in fact, shown that those who ‘over juggle,’ regularly disrupting meetings and focused working sessions to check messages, are even at risk of significantly reducing their IQ (Dr Glenn Wilson, University of London). The recorded drop was more than double the IQ drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana.
How do I spot Email Overload?
There are six key symptoms of email overload to look out for:
- You’ll probably know if you’re suffering from stress, but if not keep an eye out for headaches or dizziness, stomach problems, muscle tension, chest pain or sleep problems.
- A study from The University of California Irvine found that those who frequently check their emails are more scattered and have an elevated heart rate, keeping them in constant state of high alert. In 2019, a Manchester University study found that email overload was causing people to get ill due to its associated higher level of workload stress.
- We all love the idea of multitasking, but actually focusing on one task at a time is proven to be more productive. Do you find yourself constantly distracted by emails and hopping between tasks? Well, that’s probably a red flag.
Attention Deficit Trait
- This ‘pseudo ADD’ term was coined by two Harvard psychology professors who noticed people experiencing a shortened attention span due to communication advances.
- If you’re struggling with focusing on a task without compulsively checking your email, voicemail, or internet, then you might have ADT. It’s not an ‘illness’ so to speak, but a psychological response to the hyperkinetic world we’re exposed to.
- This email overload manifestation could mean you’re struggling with staying organized, prioritizing your workload, managing time, and feeling a low level of panic and guilt.
Constant Pressure to Respond
- We all feel a huge pressure to respond to incoming emails within a short time frame. Over time this has developed into an expectation which can lead to strain, overload, compulsive checking, and reactive decision-making.
Lack of trust
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed, this often leads to a feeling of a lack of control. The consequential fear of ‘missing out’ on a communication relating to a specific project can then lead to workers being too involved in every email and chat conversation, exacerbating the email overload.
Associated Impact on Self Esteem
- There is a dopamine hit that comes with email management, particularly achieving that elusive Inbox Zero. Whatever is triggering the dopamine hit drives an extremely addictive behavior for workers.
- Whenever you may feel that you have stopped achieving your dopamine hit due to email overwhelm, then this can negatively impact your self-esteem and confidence, in turn, reducing your productivity.
How Can Leave Me Alone Help with Email Overload in 2024?
If you’re a newsletter addict, you might find that newsletters and promotions can overwhelm your inbox and bury the important messages. The first thing to do if you’re experiencing email overload is to clear out the clutter by unsubscribing from the mailing lists that don’t bring you joy.
Leave Me Alone Unsubscription Service
Through Leave Me Alone, you can see all your subscription emails in one simple list and unsubscribe directly with just one click, instantly reducing the number of emails you’re receiving each day. Plus, unlike some other unsubscription services, Leave Me Alone will fully unsubscribe you, not just hide those emails away into a secret folder.
Leave Me Alone Rollups
Once you have finished opting out of emails Leave Me Alone can combine your remaining newsletters into email digests called ‘Rollups’. If there are certain newsletters or contacts that you enjoy receiving emails from but would like more control over when these arrive in your inbox, then this is the service you’re looking for.
Leave Me Alone collects all the relevant emails and delivers them according to your schedule daily or weekly. For example, your regular marketing promotional emails can all be delivered in a Rollup to peruse during your lunch break, or your industry newsletters could be condensed into one Rollup that arrives during your morning commute.
Leave Me Alone Email Shield
The final stage we recommend implementing is Leave Me Alone’s Inbox Shield; through this service you can screen out all the marketing spam, unwanted newsletters and cold-emails by only allowing senders that you trust into your inbox. You can view your screened emails either on the Leave Me Alone website or we’ll send you a daily email to let you know which senders have been screened so you never miss anything important.
As part of Leave Me Alone’s Email Shield service, you can choose to switch on a Do-Not-Disturb mode, providing you with designated ‘focus time.’ When this setting is enabled, your emails will be held back and only delivered when your focus time has finished. But don’t worry, you can always set up priority senders, so those emails will always arrive straight into your inbox, skipping the screening.
Find out more about how Leave Me Alone can support your email productivity and the various pricing options.
What other tips do you have for those suffering with Email Overload in 2024?
Here are some simple ways to prevent email overload for the New Year:
1. Schedule designated email hours - To make sure you’re not subject to continuous distractions, schedule into your calendar a designated time to read and action emails. Allow yourself the time to focus by switching off from unnecessary notifications and distractions.
2. Set your own communication rules - With all the new forms of workplace communication in place, consider applying rules or working practices for yourself. For example, be selective over when you choose to ‘Reply All’; if your question requires a yes or no response, direct it to the individual via instant messaging instead of email. This could eventually evolve into a ‘Ways of Working’ document that you share across your team.
3. Clear your inbox ready for a fresh start - Everyone loves the New Year for the promise of the fresh start it brings, so spend the (hopefully) quieter time between now and January 1st clearing out your inbox ready for a fresh start.