Is email making you stressed?

Next time you open your inbox, notice what happens to your breathing. Do you hold your breath when you open your inbox? Or does your breathing speed up?

Email makes many of us feel anxious, overwhelmed and stressed.

The never-ending stream of demands coming at us can seem just too much to deal with. The information overload can be overwhelming.

Close your inbox for a moment and step back. Ask yourself just how healthy your relationship with email is… and if it is causing you stress or strain, what can you do to improve this?

The huge reaction to the recent news that 250,000 French workers have been told – following a legally-binding labor agreement – to disconnect outside of working hours, shows that many of us are perhaps missing a vital element when it comes to email: boundaries.

For these French workers, it’s simple. The rule says no email outside of working hours, so no email outside of working hours it is…

Is this what many of us are craving? For someone to draw us a line?

In the absence of someone to tell us to switch off, it’s time to put our own boundaries in place.

Try these tips:

1. Avoid keeping your email open all the time. Being constantly distracted by updates and pinging demands from other people means that you’ll never turn your full attention to the work you’re doing. It means you’ll be constantly ‘on alert,’ will be less productive and will make more mistakes. Even half an hour switched off at a time is beneficial. Try it.

2. Decide how many times a day you want to check email. Twice? Four times? Only once? This can depend on the day. Many of us blame the boss or the people we work with for the reason we check email so much. But in fact, much of the pressure we feel to check we actually put on ourselves. Notice this, and talk to your boss about email methods and productivity if needs be.

3. Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. If you do, you’ll immediately be spending your time and energy on other people’s demands, rather than on your own priority tasks. Do something else first for an hour (or two hours). See what a difference this makes to your productivity.

4. Decide what time to switch off email at the end of the day. Stick to this. Log out and breathe.

If all else fails, however, there is always one more option… shut down, pack up and move to France.

This blogpost also appears on The Huffington Post website