Manage the Endless Stream of Email by Setting Boundaries

One of the reasons email is so hard to manage is that sending it is easy. We can fill up each other’s inboxes by just clicking a button, so it’s important to set boundaries around email. Here are three things to try:

Use auto-replies. When you need time to focus on work, your email autoreply can tell people that you’re unavailable and when you’ll get back to them. Whether you’ll reply in a day or a week, let people know what to expect. (In the meantime, give yourself permission to ignore messages that can wait.)

Set guidelines for your team. Tell people how and when you prefer to communicate, and ask colleagues and clients about their preferences as well. Don’t forget to revisit this discussion when people join the team or new projects begin.

Lead by example. If you answer emails late at night or on weekends, you’re telling your team to do the same. Use services that allow you to schedule emails to send later. Better yet, step away from your inbox entirely.

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