Coping with Email Overload: What’s your limit?

In my first post about email overload yesterday, I’ve outlined that in the past 15 years, I’ve come across three main “In-Boxer” types:

  • Power-Crusher (A)
  • Organizer-Separator (B)
  • Dynamic-Chaos (C)

In case you can’t find yourself in one of those categories – or you actually can, but still suffer with email overload – then I suggest: switch to a different style and try that for some time! It might just work.

But beaware: no matter which In-Boxer style you pick, they all have their pros, cons and limitations. Those limitations ultimately determine if and when overload occurs, so it’s better to find an independent indicator which you can use to understand when it happens.

What’s your limit?

As mentioned in the earlier post, the Harajuku moment helps to put yourself under a bit of pressure to focus on getting things done and being committed to solving the overload problem, just before it’s becoming too big. But what is (just) enough pressure on yourself?

That’s different for everybody and it depends on your limit. For instance, aiming for Inbox Zero is nice, but the pressure to me personally is simply too much. So I won’t push for this particular limit.

Independently and personally, I also don’t like the shift of priorities that naturally occurs with putting yourself under so much pressure, especially when “inbox zero” is the aim. It isn’t healthy from a physical or mind perspective and just because you’ve got no emails in your inbox at the end of the day, it isn’t automatically more productive either.

There is a relation between your personal limit and your inbox limit

Yet, understanding your own limit is very important and no matter which “In-Boxer” type you are, there exists a relation between the two. For instance I’m mostly type A. Consequently, for me a logical limit is that “once I’ve got a scrollbar”* in my inbox, it simply means: “I’m losing control” – because in my case: “out of sight (beyond the scrollbar) = out of mind!”

It’s that point in time, that I must do something about it, otherwise, I may not be able to recover. As I know this, it helps me to watch out for this easy to spot indicator.

For type B it’s when the stuff you move to your to do list is not getting executed any more (or both your inbox and to do list suddenly have scrollbars all the time, deadlines for tasks are getting missed etc.) and for type C it’s when you can’t see anything on the screen except i.e. starred items.

Whatever approach you take to manage your email overload, defining a parameter is quite instrumental in noticing when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get digging deep in your inbox again – and / or to start over with the continuous email overload improvement process I’ll be writing on over the weekend.

*Note that 7 years ago, it took much more time to reach that limit than it does today.

One thought on “Coping with Email Overload: What’s your limit?

  1. Pingback: Coping with Email Overload – A Continuous Improvement & Development Cycle | Toby's Blog

Leave a Reply