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Email Anxiety: How to Rebuild Your Inbox Relationship

You open the lid to your laptop to load up your email inbox. Your heart begins to race, your breath becomes shallow, and you start perspiring. What will it be this time? An urgent request from a client? A new task from your boss? Or simply too many emails to respond to?

Opening your inbox has become a traumatic experience for a lot of email users. Email anxiety, or the feeling of dread that appears as you check your inbox, is a growing concern as our addiction to email is worse than ever. With the average inbox receiving up to 120 emails per day, for a lot of email users, this daily ritual is an ongoing battle between productivity and mental stress.

What is Email Anxiety?

The mental stress caused by our inbox is part of a larger issue tied to the seemingly never-ending, and COVID-19 Pandemic amplified, connection to the digital world. The blurring of lines between our personal and professional lives is developing its own pandemic of mental health challenges and stress. With over 52% of professionals feeling burned out, our inboxes and the email anxiety that comes with them, are at the forefront.

Never before have we been more connected to our inboxes. With email-enabled devices such as smartphones, wireless earphones, smartwatches, and even digital assistants on our kitchen counters, it is no wonder that our mental, emotional, and even physical health has taken a toll.

How to Overcome Email Anxiety

Overcoming Email Anxiety is possible, but it requires some effort. With a handful of email habits, behavioral changes, and even tools to help you regain control of your inbox, you can remove the feeling of dread that comes from checking your inbox.

Limit Email Notifications

One of the most effective ways to reduce your email anxiety is to limit how easy it is to become overwhelmed with information coming from your inbox. If you aren’t able to remove your email altogether from your smartphone, consider removing notifications. Having the ability to avoid distractions will not only keep you focused and more productive, but your mind will be at ease knowing you are not having to worry about any unread emails that just appeared

“Stop receiving email notifications? But what if I miss an email?” — You won’t, you’ll be fine. If something urgent comes up, you can be reached via phone call.

Limit How Often Your Check Your Inbox

With about 62% of Millenials checking their email from bed, beginning your day with emails on your mind is not a great way to maintain a healthy relationship with your inbox. Stop checking emails as soon as you wake up. By reducing how often you check your inbox in a day you can minimize the mental space that email takes up in your mind.

Less email checking results in fewer thoughts on emails and less time overthinking and worrying about the need to reply, forward, or action a message.

Develop an Email System

Email philosophies, systems, and frameworks that help you work through your inbox to minimize how much time you spend dealing with emails can do wonders for your email productivity and email anxiety. A predefined process can take the emotional burden out of your inbox by providing you with a script to follow when it comes to action emails. There is no need to overthink emails in your inbox when you limit how you allow yourself to react and manage emails.

Some of the best-known systems for tacking your inbox in order to minimize your time spent on email include the Eisenhower Matrix, Getting Things Done, and OHIO.

Use Tools to Clear Out Emails

The email industry is loaded with incredible tools to help you improve your inbox productivity, reduce email overload, and focus on more important tasks. By improving your inbox experience and reducing email overload, you can reduce the anxiety that comes from checking email.

Using unsubscribe tools such as Unrollme and Cleanfox can help manage email lists that you’re a part of. Notification blockers such as Inbox When Ready can lock your inbox until you’re ready. InMoat is a tool that we’ve been working on that prioritizes incoming emails so you can focus on the emails that matter, removing the overload and reducing the anxiety that comes from email.

Setting Email Expectations

Sometimes the best thing to do with your inbox is to let others know about your email expectations. Set up and auto-reply or mention that you limit emails between certain hours. This will allow you to step away from your inbox, reduce mental stress, and focus on more important tasks.

Better Email for Everyone

Fixing the relationship with your inbox is important. Fortunately, there are a lot of options available to reduce email anxiety and the overwhelming feeling that comes with checking your email.

If you have any tips or tricks to reduce email anxiety, please email them over to

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