Productivity at Work

Addressing E-Mail

For ADHD adults, a crowded e-mail inbox can be a source of nonstop digital distractions. This 10-step program will help anyone with attention deficit disorder get organized to tackle e-mails before they pile up.

ADHD Adults: Organizing Email at Work, Avoiding Overload
ADHD Adults: Organizing Email at Work, Avoiding Overload

For many adults with ADHD, e-mail is brain candy, instant gratification — and a huge source of distraction at work.

Use the following strategies to manage time, get organized, and keep digital messages from crowding out important tasks that need to get done at work and at home:

Limit Messages

The fewer email messages that come in, the fewer you have to deal with.

  • Set e-mail software filters for messages you want to receive, but don’t need to read right away. They will automatically be archived or moved to a folder you designate. To set up a filter in Outlook, choose “Rules and Alerts” from the Tools menu; in Gmail, click “settings” (at the upper right of your screen), then the “filters” tab.
  • Mark unwanted e-mails as spam. Future messages from the sender will go to your junk-mail folder.
  • Use an e-mail-filtering program to limit access to your inbox. These programs, such as ChoiceMail, automatically approve e-mails from only the senders you know and trust. Unapproved senders will be blocked.

[Do I Have ADHD? Symptom Test for Adults]

Manage Messages You Do Receive

  • Don’t allow others to set your agenda. Set a schedule to attend to e-mail — a half-hour before lunch and a half-hour before you leave for the day.
  • Turn off the e-mail notification function. Having attention called to each new message is a distraction that ADD adults don’t need.
  • Limit follow-up e-mails. Create a subject line that lets the recipient know exactly what your message is about.
  • Respond to any e-mail that requires a brief response as soon as you open it. Don’t put it off to re-read later.
  • Mark e-mails that require an action. You’ll be able to quickly find the action items later on.
  • Empty your inbox every day. Old e-mails that require no immediate action distract you from more important e-mails that require your attention.

[Read This Next: 9 Productivity Tricks for the Easily Distracted]