Being overloaded with emails can cause a lot of stress. Communicating more smartly can help reduce the number of emails, connect with each other in a more meaningful way and improve productivity.
Taking control of your emails to improve wellbeing
Connecting: Good relationships boost our wellbeing by allowing us to relate to people, offer support and create a sense of belonging. Supportive interactions reduce negative consequences of stressful events and can enhance psychological wellbeing. Even minor interactions with people outside of the immediate friends and family group can improve our wellbeing.
Movement: Prolonged sitting during work and leisure time can increase the risk of cardio-metabolic diseases. It is recommended that those working at their desk aim to incorporate light activity like standing and walking into their day. Changing the way you communicate to a face-to-face conversation or a phone call can give you an opportunity to incorporate more walking or standing into your day,
Clarity: Ambiguity in your work can have a negative impact on your wellbeing, causing stress, anxiety and lower self-esteem. For more complex tasks emails may not be an appropriate way to interact, as seeking clarification may result in lengthy exchanges that can be avoided by picking up the phone or meeting face-to-face. These methods provide immediate clarification, feedback, and personal focus. Emotions can also be misinterpreted in email exchange. Therefore some subjects are better discussed via methods that offer an opportunity to respond to subtle cues and emotional states, like in person, or via video/voice call.
Planning: Are you in control of your emails or are your emails controlling you? Why not plan a time in your day when you check your emails and use MS Teams chat for quicker more dynamic interactions? This will save time as it does not require the same greeting and sign-off as an email, conversations can be picked up easily from where they were left off as the whole trail is kept in one place, and emojis can be used to convey your reactions quickly.
Using clear subjects: We receive many emails every day that do not require action or are not relevant to us, and somewhere among them we can sometimes miss something important, which adds to our stress levels. To help each other identify important emails, it can be helpful to highlight required actions and a level of importance in the email subject, making it clear what is required from the recipient.
Focus time: You might also find it helpful to use your Outlook calendar to book focus time for yourself - this will reduce online interruptions, when you need to work on something uninterrupted (during focus time, you should make sure to close your Outlook too).
Notifications: At UCL it is possible to access your email from anywhere on any device, so some of us choose to install it on our personal devices. If you have Outlook on personal device, remember to disable notifications outside of normal hours