Two Healthy Mindsets for Managing Email

Brian Sun

All of this week Staffhacker contributor Brian Sun is going to tell you how to get your inbox in order, from developing healthy mindsets to reaching Inbox Zero and using the Trusted Trio system.

One time, a campus minister showed me her email inbox that had like 1,863 unread emails. My jaw hit the floor. She just wanted them to go away. But the more emails she got, the more she felt like it was impossible to get rid of all of them. If this is you, I’m here to help.

First things first, to get your email inbox under control it’s essential for you to think differently. Most campus ministers (especially smart phone owner campus ministers)….

  • Check their email multiple times a day
  • Leave a bunch of emails in their inbox after opening them
  • Think their ministry will fall apart if they go a day without checking their email (this is just a secret we’ll never say out loud)

I’ve been there. And sometimes I still fall back into those old habits BUT some key mindsets have helped me get over my email addiction.

First mindset change: Treat your email inbox like your real mailbox.

In the non-virtual world, the mail people deliver mail to your house once a day. And after you pick up your physical mail from your physical mailbox you don’t go check the mailbox again because there is nothing in there.

Treat your email inbox the same way.

For example: I check my email inbox once a day at 5:00pm and after that I don’t check it again until the next day at 5:00pm. If I checked my physical mailbox 15 times a day my neighbors would think I’m idiot. So don’t do that with your email inbox.

If you’re skeptical, just try it for one day. See how it feels. Decide if it’s doable. Then try it for a second day. And a third day.

Second mindset change: Your ministry will be okay if you only check your email once a day.

As a campus minister, you get emails from your area supervisors about upcoming camps and conferences, emails from your national headquarters about big things happening in the movement, emails from students who need prayer, and on and on and on.

If you go 24 hours without reading these emails (which is a good rhythm since email is not instant like text or AIM), everything will be okay. Honest.

“But Brian, what if there’s an emergency?” – if there’s an emergency, you’ll receive a telephone call or a text message. Or someone on your staff who checks their email 15 times a day will tell you what’s going on. Everything will be okay.

We’re just getting started. Now it’s time to get your inbox to zero so we can set up a system where you control your email instead of your email controlling you.

By Brian Sun | Posted: Mar 21, 2011
Category: Email/Communications | Tags: , | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.


  1. March 24, 2011, 5:11 pm | Permalink

    dude. this was super helpful. I changed settings on my mac mail to “check mail manually” — and immediate lifestyle change! I feel like its helped me feel less overwhelmed. Now if I could do that with gmail…

    • March 27, 2011, 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Andy….that’s so cool! I’m glad the article was helpful : )

  2. June 9, 2011, 4:48 am | Permalink

    BRO! You are a lifesaver! Why did I not know about your genius writing and tips? Everything you write it’s as if you’re reading the inbox of my mind… trippy! I think I need therapy for dealing with my 10,000 messages in my inbox (literally) and over extended online life in general. Plus I need help thinking through doing social media well for personal and ministry related things. I miss you 🙂

    • June 15, 2011, 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Justin, you didn’t know because you never asked : )

      I emailed you about setting up a call so we can try and get your inbox under control!

      I miss you, too, brotha. Talk to you soon.


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