The Surprisingly Simple Fix To My Email Stress

Email Trick-1

This is a guest post by Blake Stratton. Blake is a musician and writer in Nashville, whose blog and podcast, Life In The Woods, is all about bringing hope to independent creatives.

How’s your email stress level?
Are you annoyed by how much time email sucks from your day?

Like you, I was frustrated with the power email wielded over my time. Despite all kinds of tools and email management strategies, I was still checking it all the time. You know your “system” isn’t working if you’re doing email in the grocery check-out line.

Have you been there?

If so, here’s the solution.

It was staring me in the face the whole time. It was easy. Too easy.

I never thought it would provide such calm.  I got immediate relief—more relief than I realized I needed. And in the long term, I became far more focused and free of unnecessary stress.

All that without really doing anything. The only thing I accomplished was clearing my mind of…the dot.

That little dot. More specifically, that little number inside that little dot on the corner of my mail app.

The Email Badge.

Email Badge-1In theory, this is a helpful tool. It notifies me of email I haven’t tended to yet. And I ought to be thinking about that, right?

No!
The reality is that whenever I looked at my phone’s home screen, the email badge was glaring at me. An incessant nag, reminding me of an increasing workload. And if I responded to the interruption and cleared my inbox, the badge would simply reappear moments later.

The badge’s reminder didn’t help my productivity. Quite the opposite. It diluted my focus, causing me to pay attention to tasks that hadn’t earned it.

So here is, step-by-step, what I did to solve the problem.

STEP ONE:
Turn off email badges in notification settings.

photo 1 photo 2
Note: These are screenshots from iOS, but I suggest turning off badges on whatever devices you use, including computers and tablets.

END OF STEPS.

That’s all. It may not seem like much, but the benefits have been remarkable. Besides what I’ve already mentioned, you can expect:

  • Greater consistency in responding to emails.
    You would think it would be the opposite, but after my badges were gone, it was far easier to stick to a schedule with my email. Once a day I tackle it hard, and it stays down.
  • Greater sense of control.
    If you’re like me, you’ll experience a feeling much like muting the TV during annoying commercials. You didn’t know how loud it had gotten until you hear quiet. That’s the sound of you regaining control of your work day.
  • Increased level of happiness.
    The bigger the number on the badge, the more people you feel like you’re letting down. It feels like you’re in debt. You may be crushing your work day, but the badge tells you that you’re not doing enough. Removing the badge removes that negativity so you can focus on what you’re doing well.

The Fix for Stress-Free Productivity

Here’s the thing with reminders: they are only helpful in their appropriate context.
The badge promises that you won’t forget. But that’s not a healthy reminder system.

So turn it off for stress-free productivity.

Question: Have you de-badged? How were the results? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

22 thoughts on “The Surprisingly Simple Fix To My Email Stress

  1. Been doing this for about a year for work email, and it works as advertised. Now I need to work on reducing how often I check email…

    1. I use RescueTime on my Mac, but I could really use an app like that on my iPhone. Do you know of one?

  2. I totally agree. This is something I implemented about a year ago – best decision I ever made. The only thing I leave the badge app icon on is Messages, because I tend to forget about text messages if not. Great tip!

  3. I don’t use the app badge really. I typically hate push notifications, they’re so disruptive.

    I turned off feature on my phone that fetches data from my email. Now it only checks to see if I have new email when I actually use the app, which I hardly do on my phone.

    So my badge is still there but I don’t pay attention to it because I know it’s inaccurate.

    This is a good idea, I turn off the badges on most of my apps.

    ~Lea

  4. Funny how the most simple actions will provide the greatest benefit for our lives, isn’t it? It’s not like turning off notifications is that difficult or time-consuming, as checking all of them provde to be, but it’s a deeply psychological effect that’s ingrained into our patterns of behavior.

    Not to mention the effect that the pressure of being like everyone else weighs in on our psyche, like when we feel the need to get the latest model of our chosen phone.

    Baby steps, baby steps will win the race.

  5. Love the idea of getting rid of the pesky red dot. My own favourite ideas for email are to unsubscribe to as much as you can and avoid reply all. This can really reduce the amount of unnecessary email and save oodles of time.

    1. I still have a lot of subscriptions that I should probably rid from my inbox. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Um, yeah. I feel like such a dummy. Thanks for that tip. I thought I was on the right track when I consolidated all my email accounts into smthing called an EZInbox (I use IQTell); it has made things much easier. But I was still frustrated because I’m still getting the same amount of email pings. Turning off my notification is a game changer. Duh, Malissa!

  7. I’ve had the same issue (for years), so about a year ago, I began using two email apps on my mobile device. One of them I use for email accounts that I *must* be notified for; typically, my day job. It also functions as my means of composing email on-the-go, from my default account. My secondary email app is for high-volume accounts, or catch-all accounts. For this application, badges, banners, and sounds are disabled. I check it once in the morning, again after work, and once before bed. Not long ago, that little red badge was a major source of anxiety as well as an indicator of just how much control my iPhone and email had over my life. Since implementing this setup, mail.app’s badge count rarely reaches 5, because I have less to manage, which puts *me* back in control. I couldn’t be happier.

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