Author Topic: Help workload and emails  (Read 2844 times)


  • Bristles
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Help workload and emails
« on: September 27, 2017, 06:50:32 PM »
I asked specifically about hours before I signed the offer for my new position.  They said 9:30-6.  However our group gets 400-500 emails a day that we have to read.  And emails go around all night bc we are global.  It's insanity and I've only been there 5 weeks.  Help :(.


  • Stubble
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 07:01:54 PM »
I would talk to my manager. Tell them your concerns, and that you have other commitments in the evenings where it's not possible to be available on email.

I had similar issues (emails after hours) and I just let them know that I'm often not available after hours, but let me know in advance if they'll need me and I can make it work (hasn't happened yet). Then I shut off my phone when I leave for the day. I was worried, but figured if I didn't put down boundaries early on I never would. So far I've had no negative repercussions and I get my work done during my work hours.

Maybe when you speak with your manager you can ask something like "with all these emails I'm having trouble understanding what I should be prioritizing, considering we only have so many hours in the work day". Good luck!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 12:14:49 AM »
I'd second talking to your manager, to understand expectations here - and it all depends on what your role is and what these emails relate to.

You might be expected to only read those relating to your area - i.e. if you cover North East and have  7 colleagues covering other sectors, but have a strange company process where everyone gets all the incoming mails - if this is the case, you could enquire why this was set up and see if there is any appetite to change.

If you are a middle manager, you might be copied into lots FYI but not expected to intervene - here you'd have the standing to ask your direct reports to stop cc'ing you.

If you have to do something for each of the 400 emails, it's time to ask your manager about a getting a proper work tracking and prioritization system in place, as email is not the right tool for these volumes.

In some roles I can see these volumes being OK, especially if you are meant to skim/autofile the majority, if you can provide more details of the context I'm sure people would be able to offer more suggestions.

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 01:34:58 AM »
Some things that I do that may or may not be appropriate for your workplace:

Emails that I'm cc'd on are automatically filtered into a separate folder for scanning, rather than reading.

Whole company / department / team emails go in a separate folder; the majority get a 2 second scan and then deleted.

Emails addressed to me get read properly.

When clearing out your inbox, sort the folder by sender. Find the people who send a high volume of low importance email and filter them into one of the scanning folders.

As you get more familiar with the company you'll get much faster at scanning and deleting irrelevant email.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 11:50:03 AM »
I think there are probably two parts to this...since you are new, make sure you understand your company's culture and your manager's expectations--sometimes there are a lot of CYA cc's but no expectation that replies will be made, or maybe the expectation is that email will come in any time but will be answered during the work shift. You can kind of observe what other people do, or more specifically talk to colleagues or your manager. You could also try quietly creating your own boundaries and see if you get pushback. My job has email come in at all hours because we work with a lot of community volunteers (who often look at their email in the evening), and I usually know what's in there, but I very specifically don't answer outside of office hours barring emergencies. When I had a direct report on leave, we agreed that I would forward email or send a note as I thought of things, so that she could address them (Or just know about them) when she came back, but that there was no obligation to read or respond to anything.

Then there are a ton of tools to help you manage email, and if you don't know about them, learn! Some people like the "giant in-box approach" but I personally like to have folders that I sort incoming email into. You can also use filters to sort out e-newsletters or marketing emails or emails that go to the whole organization. I also saved my sanity by turning off all the new email alerts. I go in and check at certain intervals (I don't schedule them, because I have breaks through the day when 15 minutes of email is a good use of the time, but I know some people do.)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 08:35:17 PM »
Like others said, find out what the expectation is first. If it's acceptable, I strongly suggest "batching" your email processing time - pick certain times of the day and do nothing but deal with your email, but only during those times. If you keep your email app open and allow it to constantly notify you, you'll become a slave to your email and will never get anything done.
When dealing with email, I am most productive when I follow guidelines I learned from David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD). In a nutshell, from what I remember, the guidelines state that you should only touch an email once. Once you've read (or skimmed it) you should immediately take an action on it. Actions can be "delete", "delegate", "do" (if it can be done quickly) or "delay" (scheduled on your calendar to do with later). Goal being an empty inbox each night. And I may be mis-remembering some of this but that's what works for me :).


  • Bristles
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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2017, 11:07:07 AM »
I manage an IT department for a company with offices all over the globe, so I get panicked emails from China and Australia and India all night.

It took only a brief discussion with upper management to establish that I wasn't getting paid enough to be 24/7, and that they weren't interested in hiring anyone to cover those hours.  Now most of those 'emergencies' get handled during my regular hours.  World didn't explode, and I'm still employed.

I do put my phone on DND when I go to bed, in case someone gets creative and tries to call me directly.

Busiest time of my day is first thing in the morning, trying to recover from the overnight backlog.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Help workload and emails
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2017, 04:51:38 AM »
If I were you, I'd start looking for another job ASAP.

Beyond that, here's how I handle my unmanageable email load.  I don't think I get as many as you do, but I definitely get more than I can keep up with.  If I read them all, I wouldn't get anything else done. 

I scan my inbox periodically for emails that "look" important, based on subject line, urgent indicator, the sender, and topics in which I am already engaged and on which I am expecting an important message.  Everything else gets blown off for the time being.  If I happen to get an hour or two without any meetings, calls, or urgent issues to attend to, I might go back through recent unread messages and pick off some more that look like they might be consequential.  But I never go back more than a week.  If there was something important in there, the sender probably already called or stopped by my office, or complained to my boss about me not being responsive ;). 

Right now I have something like 2,900 unread messages in my inbox, and the world hasn't ended yet.  I've gotten the highest possible performance rating for the last two years, so I must be doing something right.