Got Email?

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I manage my email?
  • I've got too much email - Help?
  • How do I save time with my email?

Got Email? Of course - what manager doesn't? We know managers who get 200 (or more!) emails every day. Email is a necessary evil in the corporate management world, and highly effective managers know how to get the most out of their email WITHOUT spending too much time on it. In our latest podcast, we talk about how to make your technology work for you, and how you can spend less time on email while getting more done.

  [Play in Popup]

Extra Content
    Manager Tools Personal License
    Interviewing Series
    First Job Fundamentals   

Tom, not Paul. I have a cousin Paul,

Tom, not Paul. I have a cousin Paul, in the New Orleans area...

Go listen Tod Maffin's thoughts on the

Go listen

Tod Maffin's thoughts on the future of his network are essential listening [...] Manager Tools is possibly the most consistently useful chunk of digital audio I've found.

Another great podcasts guys! It

Another great podcasts guys! It reminded me to when I was working for a previous employer where email communication was the norm, I think I received about 3 voicemails in the 2 years I worked there!

I was a slave to the email, with reminders and alerts popping up all the time (although I never checked it in the presence of others- how rude!). I was getting about 50-100 a day so not really a crazy amount.

I don't get as many now but have turned all popups off, and try to check it as little as possible, it's certainly freed up a lot more time to do other things...

So impressed with all the content here.

So impressed with all the content here. I've been a listener since the first podcast and I feel like manager-tools is my little secret. I listen to the casts repeatedly and i'm on my the round of one-on-ones with my team and I'm using email better in just a few days of practical application.

Keep it coming guys.

meant to say 5th round of

meant to say 5th round of one-on-ones

I'm not sure I agree 100% with every

I'm not sure I agree 100% with every point you've made but I found the podcast to be very informative. I definitely agree with the idea that when you are having face-to-face conversations with someone - be present. Senior executives that answer their crackberry, or even worse, a phone call during a meeting should be drawn and quartered.

However, I think managing email has to start a step or two before it gets to your email client. Managing your customers (internal or external) to leverage appropriate channels is so important which is why I love the idea of presence and preferred methods of contact in a dynamically updated profile.

Ultimately, there are better channels for certain conversations depending on who the audience is and what the purpose is. Email is just one of a wide range of choices including IM, discussion forums, blogs/RSS, telephone/voice mail, face-to-face, etc. If people better understood when to use one over another, and respect my preferences (like I hate voicemail), email wouldn't be the problem that it is.

As for responding to email, it's probably true that most people should create a schedule for themselves to keep themselves from being ruled by email. For me, I work best if I triage email immediately except when I'm with someone or deep in thought. I'd like to think that part of my job is customer service and timely replies (where appropriate) are a part of this.

All in all, I think your points are on point. Now if you could just send an all employee email out to everybody to let them know :)

Earn your suit Considering what

Earn your suit

Considering what blather many management training books and seminars include, this podcast is pretty much miraculous for something free. It's run by Mike Auzenne and Mark Horstman. The two met at West Point. They know what they're talking about.

Mike- Thanks for the insightful


Thanks for the insightful input. We agree with you. I have found, though, that it's hard enough to get people to make behavioral changes for themselves. ASking them to ask clients or others to proactively change the way they communicate is a tougher sell. Better, yes, but harder. If everyone understood all the implications of "communication is what the listener does," more would tailor their message every time.

And, luckily, we have plenty more guidance on communication and email.

Also, kudos to you for your blog, I spent some time there, and was impressed. Thanks particularly for the link to the work at Duke and the interview around using podcasts for delivering corporate training. You can bet that's on our minds here. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.


Derek- Yoru post is one of the


Yoru post is one of the coolest, shortest kudos we've ever gotten in any of our work. Thanks - one of those every once in a while makes us want to pour ourselves right back into this work. We do it for our listeners.


Very good podcast about managing

Very good podcast about managing incoming e-mail. Rules based sorting of email to multiple folders is something I do since the beginning of time. But with Outlook always at the background you get quite fast distracted if an email comes in. I'm really going to try to do it as a task (3 times a day).

But now something else that hasn't been covered: What about the sent items folder. It's the biggest folder in Outlook and I think that more than 95% percent isn't worth keeping it. Any ideas in how to manage this?

Dennis- Thanks for the kind words


Thanks for the kind words about the cast. You bring up a great question, one which we just didn't have time to get to.

The answer is to set up a recurring task (every 6 months is provbably fine, but if you have size limits on your coporate account, once a quarter ought to do it) to clean out stuff older than that many months from Sent Items. Like it or not, there are some recurring maintenance tasks that are necessary.

I do NOT recommend archiving mails (using archiving in Outlook). I rarely meet anyone who does so, and those who do so never seem to have good examples of being able to go back and mine for what they need. What's more, I think the archiving interhaface is kludgy. It doesn't provide fine enough controls, and I find it interrupting me inopportunely.

BUT! The real key to this solution is that the value of mails is often the threading that happens - the conversations that occur. The way to make capturing that easy is to save sent mails in the folder that the mail you're replying to is in. Here's how: Go to Tools/Options. On the first tab, Preferences, click the Email Options button in the first section (Email). Then, in the email options dialog box, Click the Advanced E-mail Options button in the Message Handling section at the top. Check the second check bocx down, "In folders other than the Inbox, save replies with original message."


Now, if you're REALLY SMART, you'll also, in that same dialog box UNCHECK the "play a sound/briefly change the mouse cursor/show an envelope icon/display a new mail..." check boxes. Those lead to email addiction hell.

One final suggestion that some associtates of mine don't use, but I like. I also set up rules for outgoing mail. if I am sending a mail to Mike, I use "outgiong mail" rules to save a copy of that one in my manager-tools folder. This means anything I send to Mike gets in that folder. The problem is that Outlook saves it as an unread message, and so I have to mark them as read a couple times a day. It's a little overkill when I am replying to one of his mails, because it saves two copies in the manager-tool folder, one read, one unread. It's not really a problem for me, because it's mycompany, my laptop, my HUGE pst file. But I save LOTS of time looking for info in mails.

Hope this helps.

It's a privilege to serve you...tell your friends and associates about us.


"I do NOT recommend archiving mails

"I do NOT recommend archiving mails (using archiving in Outlook). I rarely meet anyone who does so, and those who do so never seem to have good examples of being able to go back and mine for what they need. What’s more, I think the archiving interhaface is kludgy. It doesn’t provide fine enough controls, and I find it interrupting me inopportunely."

Does this mean that you don't file emails for reference?

I file everything in a reference folder and archive the reference folder to currentarchive.pst. When it starts getting large I rename it to archive17.pst or whatever number I'm on.

I use x1 to search (searches offline pst files) back through when I need to. I have been considering cutting the cord and deleting things but because I have had it save me a few times the thought is scary.

I listened to this podcast for the second time last night. I've already turned off all alerts and check email less. Not 3x a day yet, but less.

I think I am about to take the leap of making my rules filter by people and priority instead of subject.

Thanks again for the great information.

Starly- Thanks for the kind


Thanks for the kind words.

Checking mail "less" is a great start! If you never get to three times a day, that's okay. It all boils down to owning your time, and asking yourself how best to use it. As much as we all decry email addiction, "less" is a better place to start. I need to go back and listen to the cast again, to see if I discussed the difference between "checking mail", and reducing the number of times during the day that your mail client (usually outlook, on your pc) grabs mail from the server. If your client only grabs mail every two or three hours, once you get through it, you literally won't KNOW that you have mail. So if the lack of mail alerts doesn't work, and you find yourself still sneaking a peek, your peek will show you nothing. Yes, you could even turn off Outlook, but that denies you your calendar...

Okay, now to archiving and referencing. I was referring very specifically to archiving, for the reasons I mentioned. I absolutely keep mails for reference. The WAY I keep mails for reference is in the folders that Outlook sends them to based on my rules. I don't think I mentioned it, but I set Outlook up to save replies in the folder the incoming mail was in. [Tools/Options - Preferences (first) Tab, Top Section on email - "Email Options" Button, and then "Advanced Email Options" Button ... Check the box that says, "In folders other than the Inbox, save replies with original message"].

By doing this, I keep my Top Level Inbox cleaned out, and only those folders that have mail get my attention. I do have a special folder I call "Operations" (which has its own set of rules) for receipts, internet purchases, tech support emails, travel details, etc. Some of that isn't quite as perishable.

If I didn't say it in the podcast, if I get a new mail that doesn't get sorted, I make a decision about how to handle it, and right click the mail, and click on "Create Rule".

For some clients (my many sub folders are org'd by client), I have 2 years worth of mails. But frankly, for most, I have 6 months.

And, I do NOT use multiple personal folders - I don't think Outlook intended for multiple pst's to be used the way people use them. There's some kludgy work arounds I've seen people use.

I think the key to this approach is two fold: (1) having multiple inboxes, each of which I think of having different value to me. Sometimes clients go away, so that folder goes away. I generally know where a mail would be - because I know who sent it. That makes searching (even with Outlook's lousy search capabilities) tolerable. And, (2), not keeping too many mails, because even though I thought years ago that "I might need that someday"...somehow I so rarely do, I can stand the loss.

Let me know if this answers your question. Again, less is better!

It's a privilege to serve you.


Thanks Mark, that was very

Thanks Mark, that was very helpful.

Mark: You mentioned you would send


You mentioned you would send anyone that asked an invite to Gmail.

I'm asking.

Thanks a million!

sean.mcginnis -at-




Hi, it may be a bit late, but as I'm


it may be a bit late, but as I'm catching up on your podcasts, this was the one I listened to today.

My tip when working with Outlook: If you get an email with a task you have to do, then simply drag the email to your tasklist in Outlook. This will open a new task with the advantage, that all the info from the email is already filled in. It works the same way with calendar items.

Anyway, always great to listen to your show (and take action!), keep up the great work.

Best regards,


Valuable tips, esp. the 3x per day

Valuable tips, esp. the 3x per day rule. I'm going to try it.

I have found the Getting Things Done Outlook plugin by Netcentrics invaluable to enabling and supporting the Getting Things Done workflow. It keeps things from slipping through the cracks.

As to finding email and archiving, MSN Desktop Search ( integrates very well into Outlook. The built-in search for Windows and Outlook are terrible.

The other route is Google Desktop Search. Both of these obviate the need to know where things are, per se, as long as you can come up with a relevant search string. They are life savers for me and everyone should be using something like it.

Cheers, David McCormick

David- Thanks for the feedback. Let


Thanks for the feedback. Let us know how the 3x trial works. I kind of fell into it in my role as a consultant, where I was so often away from my laptop at client sites I couldn't check it... and nothing bad ever happened. (This was true even though I was there for weeks on end and very involved in the email culture.)

I am still struggling with the GTD Outlook add in. I am doing okay on GTD in general...and I tell myself I "want" to use the Outlook piece, but haven't yet. Got some work to do! Any guidance you'd care to share I'd appreciate.

It's a privilege to serve you,


I am catching up on past podcasts and

I am catching up on past podcasts and found this one to be valuble. I am hoping you have some advice for me. I work in an environment where people are constantly in CYA mode. 8 times out of 10 you don't need to worry about it but that 9th and 10th time can kill you. As a result, I find several of my team cc'ing me on everything. I also find that I feel the need to file everything away...just in case. We have 3 managers in our department and I have found that my manager and my team work fine together without a ton of emails. BUT, we are a matrixed organization and the problem arises because the employees are serving two managers (1 is skill based and the other is project based)

As a team lead for 20 individuals I am getting buried in email and decisionmaking. I tried to empower them to make some of the decisions themselves but they are fearful of a manager coming down on them for every little decision. As a team lead, I feel pretty powerless myself to change that.

Another thing to consider in email or

Another thing to consider in email or text driven communications is the wording and impulsiveness of sending a message can be very tempting to make you be overly emotional i.e. how to give good feedback.

Earlier in my career a manager of mine (after I wrote an overly emotional email that got me in trouble) gave a very good piece of advice when composing and sending an email: Before sending the email stop and look at what you said and check if you were being overly emotional, if the words you said could be taken negatively. If you are unsure or maybe hot about what your emailing about, stop and save it off and sit on it till tomorrow or later when you can cooly evaluate that your message is the right one you want to send.

Email is in many cases like a contract on your thoughts: people save it, people forward it, but it often can be mistakenly used or taken the wrong way and it could be used against you in some cases even more so than in the what you say in some cases because there is always a record of your email.

[...] There is a great podcast called

[...] There is a great podcast called Manager Tools where they discuss many issues in the world of being a manager today. The episode (at was very helpful to me. Even though I am not currently a manager, the topics they discuss have as much relevance to me as an employee and they would to someone who is actively managing people. [...]

Guys, I stumbled across your


I stumbled across your podcasts on Sunday night while looking at ITunes here in sunny Australia. I have only listened to 3 podcasts so far and they have been fantastic. I listened to your Get Email? cast today and while I knew I had to do something and I knew of the rules that you spoke about, listening to both of you gave the kick I needed to go ahead and do (sometimes you can't see the woods for the trees).

I set up rules and folders today (after cleaning up the folders on folders that I already had running) over lunch and this afternoon has been a treat. Easy to find and work on the priority emails and leave the other stuff until I can get to it.

I will definately be getting my team to work on this as well. We all get on average 100-150 emails a day.

I have noticed a lot of people on your website saying the same thing and I am saying it as well, this stuff is great and I only wish (first time ever) that the drive to & from work was longer. I look forward to listening to all the podcasts and catching up to you.


Tim- Thanks for the kind note! Glad


Thanks for the kind note! Glad we're helping.

It's okay to be part of the crowd, and it's also okay to disagree here.


Hi. And thanks very much for your

Hi. And thanks very much for your podcast. I only discovered Manager Tools about a month ago when I was searching for some professional resources to make my daily car commute more interesting and productive.

I jumped to the "Got Email?" episode right away, and I want to tell you that I've been trying out several of your suggestions with great results. Your ideas about how to organize folders and use rules were especially helpful (I had been struggling with my current organizational system). I have now set up folders for my two direct reports, for my supervisor and for my company's executive leadership team, who often send me requests and questions. It has really helped me to pull out those messages for special notice, without having to wade through the less important stuff in my in-box until the end of the day (I get a medium amount of email--probably about 100 messages a day). I've also taken your suggestion to walk around the office more often talking to people in person to answer their email messages. I've definitely found that a face-to-face conversation often saves me time over crafting a brief but thorough (and properly spelled) email--especially if the conversation involves operational detail where I end up going back and forth with the person until we both agree on a plan. A side benefit: my coworker feels more "important" since I came personally to see him or her.

Since the "Got Email? episode, I've listened to quite a few of your podcasts during my commute, and I've been telling my coworkers and peers at other organizations about you. What a great resource you are providing. I'm going to school on Manager Tools. Thanks again.

Sally- Thanks for the kind words!


Thanks for the kind words! Mike and I love it when listeners tell us how they USED our recommendations to become more EFFECTIVE.

And... isn't it funny that others feel better about themselves based on what we do? Makes one think about the repercussions of good and bad management behaviors.

It's a privilege to serve those who lead,


More Advice about Handling E-mail

More Advice about Handling E-mail Overload...

Manager Tools has an excellent 36-minute podcast “Got Email?” that covers many of the basics, as well as sharing some humerous (or sad) stories about how e-mail can hinder relationships....

Finally got this one on my pod.

Finally got this one on my pod. Excellent. Came into work and immediately switched off the email icon and popup notification. 30 minutes later, I feel as if I have suddenly gained hours of time.

I was (am) an email junkie and can't believe the amount of time that I spend dealing with email because it is the first thing I look at and constantly reacting (rather than intiating action).

If only for this one cast, you have my upmost respect. Seems simple until someone points it out.

I have also switched the start up screen in Outlook to 'Outlook Today' rather than inbox.

Hi! I have just jumped on the


I have just jumped on the podcast bandwagon and spend my whole weekend listening to Manager-Tools previous podcasts. I am impressed beyond belief, excellent job!

I thought I'd share a simple tip about changing email behavior within your group. It worked for me very well.

When I assumed an upper management position in the new company (medium size) starting from day one I would get 100+ emails a day from my directs, my bosses, peers, vendors, customers, etc. After about a month of this I knew it had to stop! Here are 2 simple rules to follow:

That's right - I have stopped responding to emails. This is how:

If it's an internal email from someone in the company once I've read it I would just get up and walk over to his/her office with "Hi! I have just got your email about ..."

If it's a vendor, customer, or someone I couldn't physically see in reasonable time I would call with the same phrase. If they were not available I would leave a voice mail.

EXCEPTIONS: The only time I would respond to an email was if a large group of people needed to be involved, a conversation needed a paper trail, or the recipient was in a different time zone.

I usually keep my Outlook closed or silent and every time I would comeback from the bathroom I would check my emails.

After 6 months of following these rules my Inbox went to 100 emails a week. Eventually, eveyone including my bosses and peers realized that even if they send me an email I'll be knocking on their door and in turn they initiated personal contact first.

I hope someone will find this helpful!


What a great tactic. The most effective

What a great tactic. The most effective managers with whom I have worked have always kept their Inbox empty. I realized after observing them that this was due to their immediate response to emails which occurred through either a personal visit or a phone call... bleep, email archived/deleted. I imagine the personal visits discouraged some of your staff from sending borderline emails.

Wow ! So many comments about

Wow ! So many comments about Emails.

I have solved my own problems with Emails by making my own way : a "mix" between GTD principles and an American book named "Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook" by Michael Linenberger (see Forum's favourite books).

Then, as no training existed in French, I decided to train my directs on how to use Outlook effectively (Mark said you sometime need to train our directs !).

And it makes a difference :
- there are rules for making efficient E-mails
- E-mails are checked on fixed moments during the day (not everytime they come in !)
- InBoxs are completely empty every night
- When you read your Emails, your purpose is to empty your Inbox
- If you open an Email, you NEVER let it in the InBox : you delete it OR you file it OR you convert it to a task
- A task gets either a date (when you want to do it) or a context ( where you want to do it like "@Meeting with Jack", "@ home", etc)
- Any questions on an E-mail gets an answer within 24 hours
- Nobody sends a task to another person (Outlook is definitely NOT a delegation tool) - the rule is : "if you want to delegate, you must meet or call the person : she will create her own task and you will create your own follow-up task"
- We don't use folder for filing, but we use categories (much more flexible and allows more than category per Email)
- No reminders or alerts anymore
- Tasks are organized so there is a list of task to be done on THAT day, next to the Calendar (this is your "dashboard" for the day)
- The Calendar just gets what they have to : meetings, and ... nothing else !

And ... It works. Outlook is not a stress tool anymore, it is a really powerfull tool.

I would like to share what we have done here, but the powerpoint training is ... in French.

Sorry folks !


Wow, this is a vast subject. To get

Wow, this is a vast subject.

To get rid of that problem, I took some time to build up my own solution which is a mix between the GTD method and a book named : “Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook" by Michael Linenberger (see MT forum about favourite books).

It worked great with me. The was no French book or training on the subject. So I decided to train my directs on it. Yes, Mark said sometimes, you need to !

With some principles …

- No alerts, no reminders
- When you open an E-mail you NEVER put it back in the Inbox : you delete it OR file it OR you convert it to an action
- If an action is less than 2 minutes : you do it now ; if not : convert it to a task
- A task gets a date (when will I do it ?) OR/AND a context (where will I do it ? like “@meeting with Bob”, “@phone”, “@home”, etc)
- NEVER send a task to someone else ! Outlook is definitely NOT a delegation tool. The rule is “if you want to delegate, you meet or call the person : she creates a task for herself and you create a follow-up task for you”
- Calendar just gets meetings (and nothing else)
- Don’t file with folders … Use categories (much more flexible : you can file an Email in multiple categories, etc)

… and some simple Outlook configuring …

- a list of task “by context” allows you to group actions
- a task pad that only shows the task for that day next to your Calendar is your dashboard
- a list of the tasks to be done in next days is your view on the future

… we got tremendous results :

- Empty In-boxs
- Any E-mails is answered within 24 hours
- Clear lists of tasks and follow-ups (easy to prepare a O3 or meeting)
- Less stress
- And a bonus : the possibility to check the tasks you have done over a period of time !

Life-changing. I would like to share it, but my PPT is … in French !


Thanks Cedric. Very useful

Thanks Cedric. Very useful post.


My pleasure. I would like to share

My pleasure.

I would like to share more of this.
I wonder if the Forum would be the right tool ?



Mais oui.


I've bought that book you mention today

I've bought that book you mention today too - I do need to try and get a handle on this. I resisted turning off my "new mail" reminders until a couple of weeks ago but I've got to say that it really does make a huge difference - much as it pains me to turn off the nice translucent Outlook 2007 popups .... :)

There's no doubt that the periodic "ding" interrupts your concentration something chronic! Even if it's only for a few seconds.

I agree the forum would be the perfect tool to continue this.


Wow! You mean...we're ...

Wow! You mean...we're ... right?



Well ... possibly ... maybe just this

Well ... possibly ... maybe just this time .....!


"Mark Horstman Says: Mais

"Mark Horstman Says:
Mais oui.

Hoho ! Bravo !

Mark, I, I am going "to lauch a

Mark, I,

I am going "to lauch a subject" about this on the Forum. I just need some time to do so.


I just listened to this podcast today.

I just listened to this podcast today. Although it's about 2 years old, the points raised are still valid until now. I guess technology isn't changing as much as we though. :)

Perhaps though, you could comment on the following:

1. For those managers in a customer service or customer facing role, timely email responses might contribute to the image of your company. Would you agree? Especially when dealing with escalations
2. What are your thoughts on instant message? Does this build relationships? I've found that even if I turn off all email notifications, I still get distracted when an Instant Message arrives.

The "email only at specific times

The "email only at specific times during the day" recommendation is great. One problem I have with that is though that if I set for example one hour aside in the morning to do email, during that time, I often end up in discussions over email. One email leading to another...

I can ignore incoming emails during the rest of my workday by turning off notifications or not having Outlook open at all, but when I'm responding to emails, or writing new mails, I'm working with the inbox, and I get distracted when something new comes in.

I haven't tried it yet, but it got me thinking that it would be great to have the email client in offline mode during my email time slots!

Essener- Yes. Get your mail, then


Yes. Get your mail, then go offline. Process, answer, send, and then leave it offline until you're ready to process again.


Essener- Mark is 100% I


Mark is 100% I think.
Outlook should not prevent you from doing your job, it should help you.
When you open your inbox, your purpose must be to get it empty ...

In my company, we try to avoid the "Email conversation syndrom" by stopping when it begins to come and go like this. We then plan a meeting and/or a conference call. If people say they don't have the time for it, it means it was not worth the Email conversation or it means they just were not the right persons for that subject.

We can exchange on the forum here, if it can help you :


Hi Ced, Would you mind sharing your

Hi Ced,

Would you mind sharing your slides with me. Half my staff is Belgian or French and the orther half is learning it. So... I could make good use of them.

What about when you are in a worlwide organization? In my case, when I go home, the guys in the US are finishing their day (half a day of e-mails) and then the Japanese wake up and start sending e-mails. When I get to work in the morning, I have my 100 e-mails...

Just for the anecdote, I left a voice mail to one of my colleagues in the US last week and he replied by e-mail. Still alog way to go...



Hi Nicolas, I don't think being in a

Hi Nicolas,

I don't think being in a global organization should change the basics. Email is in fact a very powerfull tool in that context. If you want to to continue this conversation, the forum is a better place I think (see link above).

No problem for sharing my work. Will send them tomorrow. Watch your Inbox!


During this podcast, there was mention

During this podcast, there was mention of using abbreviations in the subject line to give the reader a quick idea of the type of email. Something like DNR means "Do Not Reply". Is there a list of these abbreviations somewhere on this site?

Andy Cortwright

Andy- No, there's not. here are


No, there's not. here are some:

DNR (this is mail, not a hospital) - do not reply
NNTR - no need to reply
EOM - end of message
NNTO - no need to pen

All of these are designed to instruct the recipient about what to do. The first two say, no need to let me know you got this, or thank me, or ANYTHING.

The last two say you don't even need to OPEN the mail..everything you need is in the subject line.


5-week folder rule

New manager here. About 100 days in the new role. I have been eating, breathing, and sleeping maanger tools since shortly after my boss mentioned a possible promotion. You guys rock!

I've just gotten around the changing the way I deal with email. Excellent cast. I've set up rules for my boss, team, peers, CC, etc.

For the life of me, I can not find an option within Outlook rules to set up the "5-week folder" you mention.

Would you mind sharing how do to that?


What has worked for me

I am amazed at how poorly email is managed when it is such a critical part of most of our jobs. Like most of you, I receive hundreds of emails a day and need to be careful not to spend my entire day doing email and losing focus of where my time needs to be spent.

I won’t waste your time on all of the ineffective ways I have seen others manage email, but will focus on what I have been doing for over a decade that has worked great for me. I have yet to see anybody else doing anything similar to this method.

Having set times for doing email (first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon), taking action immediately on any emails that take two minutes or less, touching each email only once, and making sure your inbox stays under 100 emails (both read and unread) are great additional tips to put into practice.

How I manage my emails can be summed up by discussing three inboxes: Inbox, Sent Items, and Deleted Items.

Inbox: Emails in the Inbox folder should only be those items I am personally responsible for. If these items are Spam, I use Shift Delete so they are removed permanently. If these items have been taken care of, they are deleted. If these items are for someone else or I need to follow up on them, they are dragged to my Sent Items.

Sent Items: Emails in the Sent Items folder are items that others needs to take care of or I need to follow up to make sure they are done. If I send an email to someone that requires no follow up or further action on my part, this item is deleted from the Sent Items folder. Emails in the Sent Items folder should be reviewed on a weekly basis for follow up, deleting, and making sure nothing is getting forgotten.

Deleted Items: Emails in the Deleted Items folder are items that are taken care of and may be needed for future reference. At the end of each month, the oldest month of emails are dragged into their respective year folder – like 2007 or 2008. Usually, when you are looking for a past email, it is in the last couple of months, and if not, your email is still organized for searching.