Is Your Inbox Overflowing? Better Shortcuts could Help in More Ways than One

Dolly Chugh

By Dolly Chugh

Shortcuts may be necessary. Better shortcuts may be the answer.

By Dolly Chugh

The problem with email is that “anyone, anywhere, at any time, can put anything, on your to-do list,” says Dr. Josh Davis, an author and expert in the neuroscience of productivity. Many people face this dilemma. And it is not just overflowing email inboxes, it is also requests on social media and texts. Our “inbox” is now scattered between multiple platforms with messages sometimes from people we know, but also from people we don’t. People looking for jobs, informational interviews, funding, feedback, networking—as Dr. Davis said to me, “anyone, anywhere, at any time” can find us. How do we deal with the unsolicited messages which overflow our inboxes and the anxiety they can create?

At the same time, many organizations and industries are trying to pivot into being more diverse and more inclusive. Many people are striving – and also struggling - to be active forces in this effort and that striving and struggling to do better is the focus of my new book The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. I offer readers both stories and science which guide us on small steps each of us can take towards greater diversity and inclusion. Our inboxes offer just such an opportunity.

After all, the overflowing inbox may be a two-fold problem. The overflow causes anxiety and then our shortcuts to deal with the overflow may be fertile ground for unconscious bias. Research, including a new meta-analysis of more than 200 research studies, shows that unconscious bias may leak into our behaviors. This is particularly relevant for managers. It is reasonable to speculate that unconscious bias might influence which emails we read, delete, respond to, or forward.

Read the full Forbes article.

Dolly Chugh is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations.