If you are stressed out and made nervous by email, you are not alone!
Email is one of the most common causes of social anxiety and anxiety associated with productivity – the feeling that you’re not getting anything done. This feeling even has a name – ’email anxiety.’
One explanation why email correspondence is so frustrating is that it does not happen when we would want it to, which means that there is a pause between sending messages and getting responses. There’s concern as to when we will get a response.
Here are some of the most common causes of anxiety associated with emails and what to do about each of them.
1. When someone takes a lot of time to respond
When you want somebody to instantly respond to your email and they do not, it’s hard to know why and we make up our own worst case scenarios to justify it. You end up thinking that the receiver of the mail is upset or doesn’t like you or what you said in the mail.
- Make yourself understand that the email behavior of others is more about them and their situations than it is about you.
- Try to remember one recent scenario in which you felt nervous because of a delayed response for email and the situation turned out well. For instance, it may have happened that though it it took three days to get a reply for a mail, it was good news when you finally heard back.
- When you email someone and they don’t reply, try not to personalize it. It does not mean that much if a friend or colleague doesn’t respond to an email. Bear in mind that, even though they’d (ideally) want to, there are many people who are so overloaded by emails that they don’t respond to every message they receive.
- From now, write down clear examples of a slow response when you stress out and there was no major problem behind it. You’ll begin to note how normal this is when you do this self-experiment and how it usually doesn’t mean something negative. An effective way to persuade your brain is to collect your own real-life data.
2. When there’s no emotions in email.
Since there is a lack of voice and body language in email correspondence, many of us attempt to compensate for it with exclamation points and smiley faces. People who are anxious often fear that there is something wrong when an email lacks these forms of expression. Please know that this isn’t necessarily the reality.
People who appear to be anxious usually read negativity or hostility in situations in which it is not there. To try to combat this thought bias, here’s what you can do.
- Understand that them not liking you or your mail is not the only explanation for the lack of emoticons. It could also be because the writer is not normally expressive in mails, the writer was tired or distracted while drafting it or they were trying to quickly dash off an email before they hurried to something else.
3. Anxiety about the amount of email waiting for you and about being staying connected at all times.
Haven’t we all had days when we felt like changing our job description to “emailer”, as it seems like email takes up too much of your working day and energy. It’s stressful and anxiety-provoking to feel like you can’t get into important work because you’re absorbed in your inbox.
The tendency to stay on top of our email inboxes is an addictive habit that makes us feel like we’re making progress and doing stuff, but in fact, we’re losing valuable time that could be spent on our most important tasks for the day.
Lets take a look at few tips to minimize this time wastage and stress to some extend:
- Keep track of the amount of time you spend on daily emails. For example, you could try to reduce the time you spend each week on email by 5 to 10 percent. One approach is to practice writing shorter emails to do this. Several emails can be replied to with just a few sentences.
- Be sure that you’re not putting too much pressure on yourselves. People have different work schedules and those who send emails in off-hours do not usually expect a response immediately. If you think you need to respond to emails on weekends or late at night, ask yourself if that’s really necessary or simply a way to place yourself under psychological pressure.
The most important thing is not to jump to conclusions when you feel anxiety about an email you’ve received or the lack of a response. The second most important take-home message is to gradually reduce your email burden. You won’t be able to change your situation overnight, but prioritizing and tracking the time spent on it can help substantially.