If email is the problem, WE alone are the solution.

Some people might say – Nobody uses email anymore – you get too much of it. Many of us are even declining email use as more users adopt social media platforms and real-time mobile-chat applications these days. The shift from email to newer forms of communication is the result of a consumer trend favoring real-time communication methods offered by applications like Twitter, SMS text messaging, WhatsApp, Kik, Viber etc.

But, the world’s obesity problem isn’t the fault of food, and the world’s debt problem isn’t the fault of money. Our email problems aren’t the fault of email as a communications system, and they’re probably not even the fault of the tools we’re using. However the real problem for most people who feel email is out of control is that they haven’t taken responsibility for figuring out why the problem exists for them and how to change their habits to address it.

Learning to cope with email may involve things that feel painful, but a few handful of action can relieve the dread we apparently feel each time we come face to face with our inbox:

Use a modern email service that has features that put us in control. Use an email provider that filters spam more effectively.

Turn off social network notifications. They seem to be such a huge source of our angst, yet they don’t need to be. Just turn them off.

Don’t sign up for mail lists unless we really need to. Nobody can force us. Also unsubscribe from mailing lists we enjoy, particularly those that distract us into reading more, would help.

Filter stuff out of inbox that isn’t urgent. The glory of virtually unlimited email storage is that we don’t have to keep everything in our inbox, yet we can find it when we need it or browse through it when we’ve time.
Force yourself to respond to difficult messages immediately. Delete or fill certain messages without taking action on them.

If, after carefully considering and adhering to the suggestions above, you’re still inundated with a tidal wave of unwanted email, you might consider being grateful that people actually take the time to write you.

Perhaps we’ll have to do all these things, or none of them. That’s obviously not for me to say. Certainly email overload is not a trivial thing to deal with. But people have successfully and definitively dealt with it. Before we can do that, however, we have to accept that we alone have the responsibility to make email work for us. And the one thing we mustn’t do is shift the blame to email as a medium or to an imperfect email app, because WE alone are the solution.

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