Wellness Wednesday: Buried by emails? Here are a few ways out

February 3, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources, ,

A survey conducted at Michigan Medicine determined that emails were a key factor in daily stress and burnout among faculty, staff and learners.

And while there’s no surefire way to prevent emails from arriving in your mailbox, you can learn a few tips that can help you manage them so they don’t become such a daily burden.

At Michigan Medicine, the Stress + Burnout Task Team, commissioned by Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., developed a set of tools to help employees better manage their emails, allowing them to more efficiently use their time and experience better work/life balance.

Here are a few email tips which you may find helpful:  

  • ORGANIZATION is key to managing your email clutter.
    • Use your email system tools to create folders to organize messages by category; assign categories to prioritize messages and set up rules that will automatically route messages into folders and/or label them according to your criteria.
    • Unsubscribe from unnecessary bulk email.
    • Eliminate the use of “okay” or “thank you” messages. As an alternative, consider using the phrase “Thank you in advance” or “NNTR = no need to respond” when sending a request.
    • Use the reply all option with discretion, and only when all truly need to be included. Instead of using email to collaborate with groups, consider tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Skype.
  • MANAGE EXPECTATIONS for yourself and others when it comes to emails.
    • Plan two to three times a day to read and respond to email and turn off email alerts to limit multi-tasking. Also consider disconnecting entirely when you need to focus deeply on a special project.
    • Clarify when you will respond to your emails after hours or on weekends.
    • Thoughtfully choose when to use email. Use email to: inform, reply, assign or request, but avoid email for: private conversation, complex discussion or difficult messages.
    • It is time to switch to another means of communication when the number of emails has been excessive (more than three), or when they are too long (more than two paragraphs), or they would need immediate response.
  • Practice your HIGH RELIABILITY (HRO) SKILLS
    • Use SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) to outline your email to both organize yourself and prompt a quick, efficient response.

For more email tips, including information about email etiquette, visit the Managing Burnout and Stress Webpage.

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