Every minute you spend on email is a minute you’re not doing something important.
These tactics may help:
1. Have an email strategy. Checking email constantly is a path to witless inattention. Deal with your email a few times a day, in batches, at downtimes and stopping points.
2. Explain your strategy to your people. Everybody hates a communication vacuum. If you don’t tell them how you handle messages, they won’t know. Have your assistant handle routine mail.
3. Turn off “new message” notifications. It doesn’t matter if you have new mail because you’ll be checking it in a few hours anyway. Disable the alerts on your smartphone, too.
4. Set rules and filters. If you don’t need them, hooray. It means you’re not getting more mail than you can manage.
If you receive more than 100 emails a day, start with the filters in your email program, then graduate to new tools like Unroll.me and SaneBox that remove you from lists or prioritize your mail.
5. Don’t “handcraft” all responses. If you receive many requests for similar things, automate responses and then, if need be, touch them up.
Finally, understand new norms on the web. When processing email in batches, you may want to do it all. But if you’re simply checking on Twitter or Facebook, you don’t need to catch up on everything. It’s all right to miss stuff.
— Adapted from “You’ve Got Mail. And Better Things to Do,” Jason Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education.