As a general rule, 30% of emails require your attention right away. Another 40% are important but do not demand that you drop everything and reply.
What about the remaining 30%? They’re a waste. You’re squandering valuable chunks of your workday dealing with them. But you still need to find a way to operate at peak productivity when you address the other 70%.
Avoid these time-sapping mistakes when scanning incoming emails:
You read and re-read. Ideally, you read every email once—and then act on it. Beware of getting in the habit of saying to yourself, “I’ll get back to this later.”
You bury emails in subfolders. It’s fine to drag certain emails out of your inbox into the appropriate folder. But if you’re too hasty, you may wind up overlooking key requests or directives. Before you remove an email from your inbox, confirm that a VIP sender isn’t awaiting your response and expecting you to act on it.
You print emails and let them pile up. There’s nothing wrong with printing a select few emails that contain crucial data. You may also want to read a print version to digest the information more effectively. Just make sure not to let a stack of printed emails accumulate on your desk.
—Adapted from The 5 Choices, Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne, Simon & Schuster.