I’m swamped by too much email

Your Life
Jim Berlucchi
November, 2014

Q: I have hundreds of emails to wade through every day – which is not helped by one person in the office who has a “reply all” mania. I sometimes miss actual important items that pertain to my job because I tend to glaze over when I come to his emails. What is my best approach to handle this?

A: Email has a way of taking on a life of its own, swamping us with unnecessary information, drowning us in minutiae, appealing to instant gratification and reducing productivity.

Other than that, it’s terrific.

As for your problem, the most sensible first step is a friendly, light-hearted appeal: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) 

“Charlie, I need your help. I’m so swamped with emails I sometimes miss critical ones and it’s hurting my performance. Can you do me a favor and omit me in your group replies unless it’s critical? I’d really appreciate it, Pal. And someday, when I come into my kingdom, which will be email-free, I’ll give you a place at my right hand.” 

How could he refuse your charm, Dale Carnegie, Jr.? Well, he might. So, if he balks, ask your boss to add the topic of email overload to an office meeting agenda. The discussion could result in agreement on some protocols that lighten everyone’s load and increase focus and productivity. 


Jim Berlucchi is the executive director for the Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership, an educator and executive coach.