Colin Campbell has a list of twelve suggestions for coping with your overflowing email inbox. He got them from an American executive coach.
When I was a kid, an executive coach was something you would have gone on for a day-trip to Blackpool. Nowadays, it is someone who has never had a proper job but who gets paid £1500 a day to tell senior executives the bleedin’ obvious.
Anyway, onto those suggestions:
1. Admit that e-mail is managing you. Let go of your need to check e-mail every ten minutes.
2. Commit to keeping your inbox empty.
3. Create files where you can put inbox material that needs to be acted on.
4. Make broad headings for your filing system so that you have to spend less time looking for filed material.
5. Deal immediately with any e-mail that can be handled in two minutes or less but create a file for mails that will take longer.
6. Set a target date to empty your in box. Don’t spend more than an hour at a time doing it.
7. Turn off automatic send/receive.
8. Establish regular times to review your e-mail.
9. Involve others in conquering your addiction.
10. Reduce the amount of e-mail you receive.
11. Save time by using only one subject per e-mail; delete extra comments from forwarded e-mail, and make the subject line detailed.
12. Celebrate taking a new approach to e-mail.
“Reduce the amount of e-mail you receive.” Hell, I’d never have come up with that on my own. Money well spent, I reckon.
Actually, none of these sound especially helpful to me. I find it better just to ignore emails, unless they are about something important like leaving-dos or after-work drinking sessions, then, if no-one has followed them up after a couple of weeks, trash the bloody things.