4 Quick and Dirty ADHD-Friendly Ways to Get on Top of Email

June 15, 2010 Douglas Cootey

Everyone gets buried in email, especially the disorganized. Get on the wrong list, or have the wrong friend, and you'll receive so much spam that you'll swear you've been canned in it. But there is a way out without abandoning all electronics and living in a tent in the middle of the Bonneville Flats.

Managing Email When You Have Adult ADHD

inbox-zeroThis week, I will cover email coping strategies for adults with ADHD to help you get on top of your inbox.

Some people couldn't care less about email. They don't get much of it, they rarely read it, and frankly, they don't see the point of it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be like that? Not an email care in the world? Unfortunately, many of us cannot be so cavalier. We have come to rely on email as the major method of keeping up with family, friends, associates, and business leads. I hold onto my Facebook account for the very same reasons, otherwise I'd toss it in a heartbeat. But I've received too many freelance gigs from Facebook. I've missed a few, too. When our inbox is full with dozens or even hundreds of unread messages, we miss opportunities.

Just last week, I came across an email from an author who wanted to use some of my old fractal art in a book. Hey! Great opportunity! Too bad he wrote it NINE months ago. Whoops. ADHD strikes again.

I wrote him back, but I'm not holding my breath.

That's why it's important to me to get on top of my email. Many people push the philosophy of "Inbox Zero", but I find it very hard to maintain, especially since I have so many email accounts. I end up doing well on my business account, but not so well on my personal accounts. Then sometimes, like this Spring, they all become buried under an avalanche of unread email and spam. Then my mother calls me and chastises me for not reading somebody's important email that was sent a month ago and I'm out of the will again. Sheesh!

ADHD Friendly Ways of Organizing Your Email Clutter

OK, you're behind in your email and like myself, you've decided to get on top of things. You're not seriously going to reply to all 4027 of your unread messages, are you? That's potentially 4027 new letters heading back your way as people reply. Also, you shouldn't do that to people you like. If somebody has sent you 50 emails over the past four months, they don't want 50 replies in their inbox tomorrow, I promise. Here are the quick, dirty and ADHD-friendly ways I get on top of my inbox. On Thursday, I'll discuss less drastic methods.

  1. Delete it all. It's old news already. In Gmail, I accomplish the same thing by archiving everything. You'll be caught up in moments. Pat yourself on the back. Go catch a movie or two with the time you saved.
  2. Move it all into a subfolder. You can reply to it at your leisure later. I don't recommend this method. The old email is just going to eat up space on your hard drive and expand your email app's database, potentially slowing down your computer. Besides, you'll not likely ever find time to go through it.
  3. Set a timer and scan your inbox for file attachments, photos, and any subject titles that might be important. Then delete the lot. My favorite method by far.
  4. Set a timer and scan as above. Then move them all into a subfolder. Get them out of your inbox. Better than #2, but still not optimal for the same reasons.

With my Gmail account at zero for the past week, I've been able to stay on top of all my business email. Not only does it give me a good feeling because of the absence of clutter, but I may be able to maintain better business relationships, too, just by responding in a timely manner instead of nine months after the email arrives.

Now if only somebody would send me another book deal…

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, June 15). 4 Quick and Dirty ADHD-Friendly Ways to Get on Top of Email, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

Leave a reply