I get about 400-500 non-spam emails a day, and I send about 150.
On average, I have about 10 emails in my inbox. Here's how I do it.
When you get an email, scan it and immediately do one of the
- Delete it. You can probably delete more emails than you
think. Especially if you're not the only person on the To/CC line.
(True, I'm sure you have something witty to add, but you won't be able
to keep your inbox to ten items if you comment on every email.) Note:
I use gmail and I never actually "delete" email, but instead, I
archive it, using the "k" or "]"
- Do something about it, immediately. If a friend asks for
the phone number of someone else, look it up then, and send it to your
friend. It will take you less total time to do this now than to save
it and do it later. (And you will do a better job helping out your
- Delegate, forwarding it if appropriate, to as few people as
possible, ideally to only one person. (If you send it to more than one
person, each one will wonder if they are supposed to do something with
it or not.) If you do forward something as an FYI to read, please take
the time to put in an intro sentence saying why you think this is
- Defer. Worst case, hold on to it for later action. (For
gmail, I use the Star feature to mark something for future action.) But try
as hard as you can to keep only 10 messages in your inbox! If you ever
get more than 10, prune it to do one of the above on each message if
Also, do not create folders. Just use an email client which has
blazingly fast search, such as gmail. You will be surprised how
fast you can find any email without having to use folders
(or labels). Folders are old-school for email software which
did not have instant search.
See also time management.