One Touch Email Handling

I get about 300 non-spam emails a day, and I send about 120. 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 following:

  1. 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 "]" keyboard shortcuts.

  2. 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 friend.)

  3. 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 interesting.

  4. 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 possible!

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. - articles - startups - nonprofits - press 10-Aug-2023