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Check email only at set points during the day.
Also, explain to your colleagues/boss/clients that you only check email at certain times, and that they can call you or use instant messaging if the matter is really urgent.
... during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels.
However, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from it can dramatically lower your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working on high value projects.
These are internal notifications, emails from the corporate office or from team members who want to keep us "in the loop."
If you see your name in the "cc" field instead of the "To" field, chances are it's an FYI email. Consider filing it in a "To Read" folder, and tackle it when you have time.
Set up a simple filing system to help manage your mail: You could use broad categories titled "Action Items," "Waiting," "Reference," and "Archives." If you're able to stay on top of your folders – particularly "Action" and "Waiting" folders – you could use them as an informal To-Do List for the day.
The advantage of specific folders for processing email is that it makes it easier to search for past mail.
Most email programs, such as Outlook and Gmail, allow you to establish "Rules" that sort email into a particular folder as soon as it comes in.
If you regularly receive email such as newsletters, blogs and article feeds, you could re-route these to another email address, or use rules, so that they're instantly delivered to a particular folder.
This will help keep your primary inbox clear, and they'll be in one place, ready to read at a convenient time.
One of the best things that you can do, to limit the amount of email you need to process, is to encourage people to send you less.
If certain team members regularly send you long, drawn-out emails, let them know. Tell them gently but firmly that because of the demand on your time, you'd appreciate emails no longer than a paragraph or two. Anything longer than that should warrant a phone call. Alternatively, they could drop by your office for a discussion.
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