How to control your email inbox so it doesn’t control you

About 2 months ago my external hard drive I use for backing up my laptop died. Before I had a chance to buy a new one the unthinkable happened, my laptop also died!

Thankfully I was able to recover most of my files, but not everything including all my data files from my email program. I used Microsoft Outlook for my emails. I was slightly addicted to it (okay very addicted). I had everything in it’s own special little folders and all six of my email accounts (yes I have OCD) were flawlessly organized. I also had contact info and files saved from years back. Losing all of that was very upsetting at first.  Then I had to wait a week until the new laptop I ordered came and was without my fabulous email program for an entire week!

I had to use regular Gmail and webmail logins for that week. Logging into 6 different accounts was a real pain and way too time consuming.

During that week without the constant, quick access to all my email accounts I learned a few things. I learned that I can survive without being online all the time. I learned how freeing it was to not have emails popping up on your screen constantly. I learned that I really don’t need six email accounts (cough, cough). I learned that all the time I spent organizing emails really did not save me any time.  I learned that yes the world will go on and that I won’t lose customers, clients or team members if it takes me more than five minutes (or even five hours) to reply to their emails.


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When I got my new laptop I decided to not set up Outlook at all (gasp!).  I set up 3 of my other emails to forward to 1 of my main accounts so everything comes to one inbox now. I check my two main Gmail accounts in my web browser once an hour when I am online or working.  (Yes I still look at emails on my phone when I’m not home from time to time too.) I also unsubscribed from a lot of newsletters and sales emails from various stores and sites. I don’t need the extra emails or temptation to spend money on things I don’t need either.

I am absolutely amazed how not having my email program has helped me to work less and feel less stressed! I don’t feel that constant need to check and reply to emails because that box is not popping up and beeping at me constantly. I don’t have to spend time sorting and putting everything in folders. (I do have some folders/labels set up in gmail though for really important emails.)  I don’t have to be online and available all the time.  I’m taking back my schedule (and my life) and working smarter, not harder again.  I am in control of my emails again and boy does it feel good!

How about you? Are you addicted to email? Is your email program causing more work and stress than it is helping? Try turning off your email program and only checking it once every hour during your work hours. Enjoy the freedom of truly being your own boss (or just having a life and managing your time better if you aren’t self employed!).

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