What is Email Fatigue and How to Prevent It?

email fatigue

Email fatigue is real, and it's likely to push employees to quit their jobs if it remains unchecked.

A survey on the work-from-home situation in the U.S. reveals that overflowing inboxes are pushing people to question their careers. When asked which tech issues make them want to leave their jobs, 29% said it's the time spent on video calls and meetings, 22% said it's the volume of emails, while 15% said it's an overload of messages in Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Caught in a so-called responsiveness cycle, employees are trying to make up for the lack of in-person connections by responding to emails as quickly as possible, even if it takes up the majority of their workday. In fact, 63% said they respond more to emails from their bosses or colleagues than family and friends. To further illustrate fatigue, two of three remote workers admitted preferring to commute again if they could just stop dealing with mounting emails and notifications.

Fortunately, not all hope is lost. There are ways and tools to prevent email fatigue so one gets value — not burned out — from a workday.

Identifying Email Fatigue

The first step to avoiding email fatigue is to know what it is. A “yes” to several or all of the five questions in the checklist below means you are approaching or already are in a state of email burnout.

  • Do you feel compelled to respond to a work email immediately, regardless of the time?

  • Is over 50% of your waking time spent reading and writing emails?

  • Can you go more than 30 minutes without checking or replying to emails?

  • Is achieving inbox zero daily very important to you?

  • Since the start of the remote working setup, have you spent your own money on ways to boost your productivity?

Now that you’ve identified that you are experiencing some degree of email fatigue, what can you do to fight it and prevent it from nagging you?

How to Fight Email Fatigue

It doesn’t make sense to quit your job now just because the remote work situation is getting to you, but you can certainly change how you respond to it.

1. Practice time blocking.

Assign a specific hour in the morning and in the afternoon to check your emails. This way, you won’t have to keep looking at your inbox every five minutes. It will be challenging at first, but your sanity will thank you later.

2. Stick to your work schedule.

No matter how many emails you have in your inbox, work should stay within your work schedule. If you’re in a 9 to 5, with a one-hour break in between, read and type those emails only within business time. Merge this practice with #1 to find yourself spending less time typing emails and getting back more time to yourself or other career-fulfilling aspects of your workday.

3. Learn to say “no.”

This is easier said than done, but it pays to put your foot down and set your limits. If you operate in a dynamic work environment where “no” might be costly, you can always defer certain emails to another time or day. Not all emails are urgent.

4. Equip yourself with the right productivity tools.

If you find yourself typing the same emails every day, that will definitely contribute to major email fatigue. You can create a fillable template and schedule emails in advance to ease the load. Another great alternative is using software with text prediction capabilities, so you don’t have to keep typing repeatedly.

Lightkey is one such real-time text prediction software that can forecast as many as 12 words ahead, including punctuation marks. What makes this tool special is that it studies your typing patterns to provide more