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“How Do You Handle E-Mail Overload?”

I’m overwhelmed by the number of e-mail addresses and inboxes I juggle for work. How can I get control and organize my e-mail without feeling overloaded?

E-mail and information overload seem inevitable. The moment I arrive at a new job, I acquire another e-mail address, with the number of e-mail addresses and accounts attached to me now close to the number of fingers that I have — Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, and even an e-mail address for alumni.

I want to prove to myself — and to my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — that I can do this, handle it all. I want to show the new boss that the tentacles of technology do not overwhelm me, that I can handle the e-mail threads (though it feels as if an octopus has wrapped its eight legs around me).

But I must fess up: I am overwhelmed. Help!

I know what my shrink back in New York would say: “Think happy thoughts and take some more Prozac.” (As a tangent on the topic of drugs, I opted for the generic brand of Adderall, Amphetamines, on my last trip to New York after discovering that my health care had run dry. The latter cost $87 a bottle as opposed to almost $450 for a bottle of the former.)

I’ve asked the Father, the Stepmother, and a few other mentors for advice on how to manage the information overload. Some suggest deleting messages after reading them. Others suggest printing out all of the e-mails, reading them, answering them, and then deleting them. Then a few suggested creating sub-folders and filing e-mails based on date.

In the meantime, my to-do list expands every day. The new boss doesn’t know that I struggle with the e-mail octopus, but her deputy seems to have gotten a clue when I missed an e-mail that she had sent asking me to update an Excel spreadsheet with new information. “Why didn’t the latest spreadsheet reflect the changes,” she asked. “Did you receive that e-mail?” Of course I did; it just got buried and forgotten. I wrote back that I had it under control. But do I?

[Editor’s Note: Find expert tips for managing e-mail overload.]

How do you avoid information and e-mail overload?

1 Comments & Reviews

  1. Ally,
    If you don’t really need all the email accounts cut out the one you really rely on most. Or another option is put all of the email accounts that aren’t your work emails on your phone and read them when you’ve got the time. When it comes to work, always be aware of your boss’s emails. They take precedence over everything else. Either you or your IT guru can put your work email on your phone so you can frequently check for work related messages. Skim through, block unwanted senders and delete junk mail if your company doesn’t have a spam filter.
    A bad habit we who have ADHD do is “multi-task”. Chose the priority that has to be done today especially if it comes from your boss. If it’s your boss overwhelming your “To Do List” ask her what order she would like the list of tasks done in. I would also recommend reading: “The One Thing” by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. It helped me.

    Good Luck,



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