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A couple of years ago the problem with email is that 90% of the messages received were Spam and there was very little we could do about it.

Modern technologies now allow us to filter messages before, and after, they hit our inbox dramitically reducing the amount of rubbish that we have to wade through during the working day. But what about legitimate email? How do we manage that?

The guys at Getting Things Done @ Yahoo! Groups posted an interesting link on how to deal with Email Overload and still retain your sanity.

David Allen as part of his “Getting Things Done” methodology recommends that your inbox is clear on a Friday afternoon but how is this possible when you could get 100 emails a day?

As Steve Robbins writes:

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Over 100 real e-mails come in each day. At three minutes apiece, it will take five hours just to read and respond.

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So how do we manage this and still be able to get on with real work? Tips include:

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  • Use better subject lines
    This allows people to see what the content of the message is straight away and prioritise it quickly
  • Don’t CC everyone and their dog in
    Only CC those who are relevant to the message content
  • Don’t “Reply All” all the time
    Only send the message to those who would benefit from it
  • When you CC people explain why you have
    Put a note at the top of the email as to what sections are relevant to each person CC’d
  • Try to put separate topic in separate emails
    Again, this allows people to prioritise, as well as to file the email properly
  • Make actionable items clear
    This allows people to know you are requesting an action to be done as opposed to just mentioning it may have to be done

The list continues and also goes on to mention how to read and receive email. The full article entitled “Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload” can be found here. Update: June 2022 – link no longer valid

Other resources include:

Please feel free to add more resources in the comments section

About The Author
Katy is always trying to be more productive one day at a time! Whether it's analogue, digital, motivational or psychological who'll try any system that will help her get things done and get organised. As well as running, she also loves making music and reviewing things.
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