Lynne Durham | Are you feeling a slave to your inbox or avoiding checking emails?

Time Management – The EMAIL issue

Email management – start with 5 minutes a day!

Although you might not feel like it, you are in control of your email inbox.

Emails are there to serve you, and you will be able to release the pressure when you commit to attending to them.

So, I want you to choose now – are you going to commit to creating a plan and stick to it for a week?

Just one week; create a plan and follow it for 7 days – treat it like a game, one that you are playing with your email inbox!

A game that you can win when you get to the end of the week or the month, depending on the amount of time you are putting in, and how you will feel differently than you do now.

As with all games, they are voluntary AND they are meant to be fun.

How can you make this fun? Some options are – imagining the under control inbox, or celebrating at the end of the week with a treat for yourself, book a massage or purchase a big bunch of flowers for your office because it will want to look as fresh as your email inbox feels.

The first step is the commitment, if you have had a hate relationship with your inbox for a while, your brain will resist the thought that it might be simple to fix by saying something like – if it was simple I would have done it already!

As with a lot of things, it is simple, it is just not easy.

Choosing the commitment, think about how you will feel differently than you do now. Think about the weight lifting from your nagging overflowing inbox.

I am asking you to commit to a minimum timeframe and if you don’t see any improvement in I want to know!

This is a process, you are in discovery mode; discovering what works and what won’t. You get to choose to keep what works and change what doesn’t.

Picture, your fully under control inbox and then go about creating it.



I also want to point out that you don’t even need to have an email inbox. Email accounts are optional, you could choose not to use email at all.

You could start today and put on an autoresponder saying no emails are read. It really is that simple.

So, if you have decided to have an email account (or two), take these steps so that you can relieve yourself of the burden.

I am about to ask you to choose more options.

Before we go there, I want to ask; what do you have to lose?

If you answer that with “my overloaded inbox” or “nothing” it is time to get started!


Start at the beginning!

  • Is your email inbox in emergency mode/overflowing?
    • Yes
      • Select everything prior to 2 days ago and move it all to a new folder labelled appropriately – See below under folders – ensure it is something that doesn’t give you any anxiety.
      • The reality is, if it was urgent you would have heard more recently than 2 days.
      • If you know of anything important in there – see instructions below to action it.
      • Depending on how long you have been ignoring your inbox, you may want to get help with this to get started, reach out if you want some coaching to help with an overflowing inbox.
        • Then move onto Time
      • No
        • Start from Time now!
      • Time
      • Decide how long you want to spend on your emails and the intervals – be specific! This might be a good time to check out this time calculator. Here are some specific ideas;
        • 20 minutes every morning and afternoon
        • One hour a day – 10-11 am
        • 5 or 10 minutes every hour – at 9:05 / 10:05 etc
        • 30 minutes a day – at 9:45 am
        • You get to choose!
      • Frequency
      • Decide the frequency you want to spend on your emails, maybe you want to try;
        • Daily at 12:15 pm
        • Every second day at 9 am and 4 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday
        • Twice a week – choose the days
      • Folders
        • Decide on what folders you will work with, try one of these suggestions;
          • Actioned
          • Responded
          • Filed – keeping just in case
          • Filed – with a reminder set for the due date
          • Forwarded
          • Love to do
          • Must do
          • May want in future
          • Overflow – nothing urgent
          • Overflow – may contain urgent

Remember, whatever you choose – commit to a week (unless it completely doesn’t work) and see how it goes. Doing something in a fully controlled and decided way will mean your approach to your emails inbox will change.

Not everyone can do this alone if you’d like some help sign up for a conversation and we can work out what’s keeping you stuck. All conversations are private and confidential, and this one is free!

The next steps

  • Unsubscribe

This button is your friend.

Unsubscribe to anything you are not using or connected to or paying for or receiving any value from right now.

  • You can always go back and find them and re-subscribe if you want them later
  • This can be done as new ones arrive or as a special time-bound task


  • Assess

Filter your emails with the following questions

  • Is this urgent?
    • Yes; do it / read it /process it right now
    • No; next question
  • Is this for me?
    • Yes move to next question
    • No; send it to who needs it – jump to the end
  • Does it need a response?
    • Yes; Respond now
    • No: file it
  • Does it need an action?
    • Yes: Can it be done now?
      • Yes: do it!
      • No: Set a reminder – for example in your phone
    • Do I need to keep it?
      • Yes: File it
      • No: Delete it!


  • Auto moving emails
    • Is this important to keep
      • Yes: create a folder
        • Do you receive more than X (eg one a week)
          • Yes: create an automated move
          • No; manual move
        • No: follow above!

The end result is

  • You have decided on a set amount of time every day/week to allocate to your emails and have that in your schedule.
  • You have decided you will process EVERY single email upon receipt by following the above process and there is NOTHING left in your inbox
  • A clear inbox!

Would you like to see how to create your new email system as a habit?

Remember, not everyone can do this alone if you’d like some help sign up for a conversation and we can work out what’s keeping you stuck. All conversations are private and confidential, and this one is free!