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Employees Are Having Trouble Answering All of Their Emails

A new study from LinkedIn, which I never use, asked more than 1,000 employees to name their most common workplace challenges. Here's the list:

1. Finding work-life balance (38%)
2. Managing their workload (31%)
3. Dealing with coworkers (26%)
4. Workplace politics (25%)
5. Dealing with managers (23%)
6. Growing their career (22%)
7. Being passionate about what they do (19%)
8. Not having somebody to turn to for help (16%)
9. Equal pay/negotiating their salary (15%)
10. Answering all of their emails (13%)

I've covered all of these issues since started this blog, except for one. Number 10. I haven't covered email overload because I find it's one of my biggest work-related challenges, if not my biggest challenge. An email comes in (in my case, usually a story idea/pitch), and I read it. I'd like to respond, but I don't know quite what to say, or how to phrase it just yet. And I write for a living.

So, I move on as junk emails pile up in my email box, one after the other, like Trumps popping up randomly to taunt us via tweet throughout the day. Come at me, bro. What are you going to do, unsubscribe from my email list? Good luck figuring that out, loser. SAD!


I don't mind making an e-xample of myself if it gets us talking about managing the vast amount of messaging coming our way every day. It really can be overwhelming sometimes.

2004 Called, and Wants Its Email Chain Back
As you get older, your electronic history gets longer. I'm still signed up for alerts from researching a story in another state more than ten years ago. I'm still on the email list of experts I interviewed in 1999.

"Why do you still get those emails?" my family members ask. I don't know; I don't like e-rasing people from my work life, I guess. They took the time to write an extremely long newsletter, so the least I can do is let that newsletter sit in my email box for the next two years.

Therefore, I am not about to advise you like I'm some kind of expert to "just answer all your emails" and "schedule in your email checks, 15 minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening for answer emails". That's what every workplace writer worth their salt will tell you, because that's what the experts they emailed about it said to do.

Managing the Deluge
I'm getting better at telling myself that I MUST answer this or that email before I can do something more fun, like writing a blog post. Dinner before dessert, so to speak. I'm also becoming much more aggressive in deleting the accumulation of certain email threads (store emails and some news alerts, etc.).

Still, I need to unsubscribe from that work thing I subscribed to in 1999. I know this, but a critical mass needs to happen to make me cross that e-bridge to the 21st Century and quit that Y2k update list, or whatever.

In a way, these old email lists are oddly comforting to me. Like a blast from the past, once a week. They are an electronic piece of my past professional history that I'm having trouble quitting. Email overload is all in a day's work.


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