Climbing a Mountain of Email

Advances in technology have proven both positive and negative. Positive in that email and social media are available at our fingertips, negative because email and social media are available at our fingertips. The advancement in technology has made escaping the inundation of email near impossible.


The life of a hockey family is busy enough. Add to that managing the volume of work and personal emails, throw in the need to read and respond to each message, and it can quickly become overwhelming.

However, when used appropriately, email is an incredibly useful communication tool; it is said when keeping our main inbox cleared it helps eliminate stress and make us more organized. Good news! There are several quick and easy solutions you can implement to manage your email, and not let email manage you.

1) Create Folders: Before you start your quest of organizing your inbox take some time to set up folders to organize your email flow. Creating folders will prevent your inbox from becoming cluttered and help you easily access ones that you need.

2) Make a decision to deal with each email as you come across it. Respond, archive, file, delete.

One method to successfully achieve this is to set up broad categories: “Respond Immediately”, “Action Required”, “Awaiting Follow Up” and “Archives”. As an email comes in, make a decision on what to do with it and move it to its respective folder.

Respond Immediately: According to David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, “…if the email will take less than two minutes (a quick read, and a short answer) then take care of it right now, even if it’s not a high priority.” The concept being that if it takes less than two minutes to action, then reading and storing the task away “to do later” takes longer than it would to simply take care of the task now.

Action Required: This folder is for those emails that require longer than two minutes. For instance, an email that will require extra time to answer or isn’t urgent. You can file it away to the “Action Required” folder. These are emails that will take longer than two minutes to read or have an associated action, like bringing snacks to the next hockey tournament. Dedicate your last email-checking session each day to tackling emails in this folder and getting through as many emails as possible.

Awaiting Follow Up: This is the folder where emails reside while you are waiting for a response, or a path forward from someone else. If they have sat in this folder for some time, move them to your “Action Required” folder to ensure you follow up.

Archives: Create a folder for each year, at the end of the year select all files that you need to retain, and send them to archives. In archives, as in all other folders, if you require more detail, then you can set standard folders such as children, sports, clubs etc., and use these in all of the folders to sub-categories your roles and responsibilities.

3) Pick a time, any time: Don’t be a slave to your email, either on your phone or your PC. It is important to set certain designated times aside throughout the day. When you do decide to check emails block off a time. This will prevent you from flipping back between email and other projects, and therefore being more productive and effective. Turn off your notifications, put your phone on silent, and put your phone face down, so you don’t get distracted by the “blinking” light.

4) Email intelligently: Anything longer than 2 paragraphs warrants a phone call.

5) Receive less email: Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, stated, “If you want to receive less email, send less email”. Only rely on email when necessary, pick up the phone and connect. This will eliminate the need to have repeated email conversation. On the phone you can clarify straight away, nothing is ambiguous and things will be clear right from the start. Think twice about who you include via CC. Once you include another person on an email, then you are opening yourself up to having to answer their questions or now involving another person.

6) Automate your inbox: Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish “Rules” to help with sorting email into particular folders, Zoominmail, Sanebox and Unroll Me are other providers. My personal favorite is called Mailstrom, in Beta testing phase, this phenomenal program allows you to delete mass emails based on subject, file size, date and more. Such an easy way to organized your inbox!

7) Automate: If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds (from for example), consider having them re-routed to another email address, or use rules, so that they’re instantly delivered to a particular email account specific to this function.

As overwhelming and disorganized as email can be, it is important to remember, it is only email. The lively-hood of small countries will not be impacted if you do not respond as soon as your phone “dings”.

Prohibition Sign No Cell PhonesThe development of smart phones has been revolutionary for solving issues like having directions or contact information at our fingertips, even when you are on the road. However, remember to never check your email while driving. Set the precedent for your child. Pull over to check email while driving, or wait until the next stop.

Overall, keep your priorities straight. be present with your children, enjoy them at the rink and in the car to and from. It is good to remember that email is not a ‘real-time’ form of communication, and that taking a few minutes, hours, or even days to respond is not considered rude.

About The Author

Karyn Beacock, founder and owner of Spiral Into Control Professional Services, has always understood the difficulty of juggling life’s demands and the need to approach each day ready and organized. After returning to Canada from Australia, where she’d moved her family for a job with a Fortune Global 500 company, Karyn decided to leave her job and combine her skills with her passion... CONTINUE.

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