How do you manage email when you have ADHD?
Managing email is a huge stressor in today’s fast-paced digital world. Although email is an indispensable tool for communication, it is often cited as one of the largest stressors in today’s work environment. However, for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), managing emails is worse. With a constant influx of messages and notifications, sustaining your attention all day long can be depleting and exhausting. In this article, we will explore some effective strategies for managing email, specifically tailored to help adults with ADHD better manage their inboxes and boost their productivity.
Understanding ADHD and Its Email Challenges
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can make it difficult for individuals with ADHD to stay organized and focused on tasks, including managing their emails. Here are some common challenges faced by adults with ADHD when it comes to email management:
- Difficulty Prioritizing: Adults with ADHD often struggle to prioritize emails, leading to important messages being buried in their inboxes.
- Procrastination: The tendency to procrastinate can result in unread emails accumulating over time, causing stress and anxiety.
- Impulsivity: Impulsive clicking and responding can lead to miscommunication and errors in email correspondence.
- Overwhelm: The constant stream of emails and notifications can overwhelm individuals with ADHD, causing them to avoid checking their inbox altogether.
Now, let’s explore effective strategies supported by research to help individuals with ADHD overcome these challenges.
1. Implement a Structured Email Routine
In a study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders in 2019 [Smith et al.], it was found that adults with ADHD who followed a structured email routine experienced a significant reduction in email-related stress.
To create a structured email routine:
- Schedule Check-Ins: Set specific times during the day to check your email. Turn off notifications and dedicate focused time to work your inbox daily. This will cut down on the interruptions and distractions daily.
- Use Timers: Limiting time on a mundane task is a great ADHD email strategy because timers increase challenge and help focus your attention. If you’re struggling to manage email, set a timer with a limited amount of time for each email session. A timer will help you activate and contain your work if you see an end to the endlessness. This will prevent you from getting lost in your inbox.
- Prioritize: With ADHD, prioritizing is tough. To help you, use the sorting mechanism and simply sort emails by importance and respond to the most critical ones first. Once sorted, you can use the built-in email tools (like labels and folders) to categorize emails into topics for easier management.
2. Unsubscribe and Filter Unnecessary Emails
Research Citing: A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings in 2020 [Brown et al.] suggested that adults with ADHD benefited from reduced email clutter and stress when they actively unsubscribed from irrelevant email lists and used filters to organize their inbox.
Here’s how to do it:
- Unsubscribe: One of the best email management strategies is to regularly unsubscribe from newsletters and retail emails that don’t add value to your life or work. Unsubscribing can be easy with tools like Unroll.me to reduce email clutter.
- Create a Retail Email Address: Instead of using your business or personal email address, just create a new one that you will only use for subscribing and shopping online. This will cut down on hundreds of marketing messages sent by email.
- Use Filters: Set up email filters to automatically categorize and sort incoming emails. This helps in visually decluttering your inbox and ensures important emails are easily accessible.
- Archive or Delete: Move emails out of your inbox if you’ve addressed, acted upon, or added an action to your task list. Do not use an email as a reminder. Instead, archive or delete it to prevent inbox clutter.
3. Practice Mindful Email Communication
- Take a Beat: How many times have you regretted impulsively sending a reactive email response? Your emotional reactivity is dangerous when managing email. Avoid reactivity and take a breath when you want to impulsively fire off replies.
- Compose Thoughtful Responses: Take your time when writing responses to emails. Thoughtful responses can help prevent misunderstandings.
- Clear and Concise Subject Lines: To manage your email effectively, revise your subject lines. When you create clear, concise subject lines your recipients quickly understand the content of an email. In turn, you’ll more easily search emails when subject lines are descriptive.
- Email Etiquette: Follow professional email etiquette, including proper greetings, signatures, and polite language. This helps maintain positive relationships and avoids miscommunication.
Managing email effectively is a skill that anyone can develop, and for adults with ADHD, it can significantly improve their productivity and reduce stress. To manage your email more effectively, develop an email routine, unsubscribe from unnecessary emails, and practice mindful email communication, individuals with ADHD can take control of their inboxes and harness the power of email without drowning. Remember that these strategies may require some time and practice to become habits, so be patient with yourself as you work towards better email management.