I can't help it that I'm so popular

We all know the feeling. The impending doom that accompanies sitting down to check your e-mail after being away for a period of time. The double-digit (or god forbid, triple-digit) number in parenthesis next to the word “inbox” taunts you. Your palms begin to sweat and the stress begins to close in around you. You are drowning in e-mail.

Finding your way out of a bottomless email inbox is no easy task. As you begin to answer emails and chip away at the daunting number of unread messages, new responses continue to pour in. Some try to prioritize emails by importance while others dive right in and hope to come out on the other end sometime in the near future. How are we supposed to stay afloat in a world where the stream of email communication is constant?

Block off time to check and respond to all emails two or three times during the work day. You will be focused on the task at hand and more efficient at other tasks throughout the day because you won’t feel the need to toggle back and forth to your email every 10 seconds. But what if someone needs an immediate response? This will happen, but maybe not as often as you think. Chances are the response can wait an hour or two. And if it can’t, the person will find another way to get in contact with you (whether it’s a phone call, text, or knocking down your door). Another handy tip is to let the email do the work! Utilize email apps like Gmail Priority Inbox to prioritize incoming messages so you don’t have to.

As you clear out your inbox today, think about how you can make your email approach more efficient and conducive to your work environment. A simple plan to attack the email woes will keep you afloat throughout the work week. And on the weekends…avoid email overload and resist the temptation to check!