How to Prevent Email from Taking Over Your Life . / Credit: Email Image via Shutterstock

Every worker knows the feeling of being overwhelmed by their email inbox.  And, it only seems to be getting worse. Finding ways to manage your email - how much you get, how often you check it and how to act upon it, is key to keeping sane and productive.

Scott Kurnit, founder of free email management service theSwizzle, said the key to managing email is to avoid responding to each email as it arrives. Instead, you should set aside time to respond to emails once an hour or a few times a day, Kurnit said.

"I confess to being addicted to email, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to have it take over my life," said Kurnit. "I do check it all the time and have integrated it into my life, partially by making sure each one is as productive as possible. And, there are times you do need to put it in its place."

[Most Work Emails Not Important, Study Finds]

In addition to delaying responses to emails, Kurnit has several other tips to keep email under control. They include:   

  • Keep it short: Teach people to write short messages in the subject line followed by the acronym, eom (for end of message).
  • Step away: Close your email client for an hour or two so you're not tempted to look, read, and respond every few minutes.
  • Take an email break: Suggest that everyone check their email in a three minute break every hour in long meetings rather than people not paying attention at all times. And with the right penalty for cheating you'll likely pick up a bunch of smart phones for free!
  • Let others know if they are email offenders: Teach people who send over-long emails to put a summary sentence at the top. Feel free to send the email back to the sender and just say 'shorter, please.'
  • Save things for later: Use your flags or stars to handle a long or complex email for later. Often, by the time you get back there you don't need to deal with it all.
  • Keep out of every conversation:  Assume that if you're on the cc list that it's just FYI... so, do not get into the conversation.

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