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Taming Your Email Beast (Or Saying Yes to Yesterbox)

Who among us hasn’t felt the need for an oxygen tank as we climb the mountain of emails every day? They cascade upon us and leave us no choice but to respond immediately, leave for later, or delete. It can take a lot of time to do triage them all, time that we can put to better use. So, here are some tips for taming the email beast.


Tony Hsieh, the late CEO of Zappos, developed the idea of Yesterbox. He would not respond to emails that came in that day. Instead he waited until the following morning to tackle his To-Do list. Here’s how it works.


  1. First, set a ‘meeting’ on your calendar to look at yesterday’s emails. This keeps you from interrupting yourself on other projects requiring you to reorient.

  2. Filter out emails from today by using the function ‘before: 2023/12/25.’ This shows ONLY email received before that date. Be sure to bookmark that link and change it each day.

  3. If you fear missing an important email from today, try giving yourself a ‘treat.’ After answering, say, 10 emails in your Yesterbox, peek at today’s offerings to see if any deserve an immediate response (e.g., chain emails). If not, it goes in the Yesterbox.

  4. Flag emails that may take up to an hour to answer, set them aside, and schedule time on your calendar to revisit them. Outlook automatically sends flagged emails to your To-Do list. Add a reminder to answer them.

Another time-saving tip: Keep your responses to five sentences or fewer, if you you’re your correspondents will probably be happier too.


Some of us work on deadlines, so Hsieh’s idea won’t work. But, if you can use it, it means Yesterbox will put you in control of your email.


Call us at Business Writing That Counts with your questions about email hygiene: 425.485.3221


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