Email is a necessary evil that isn’t going away, at least not until Paul Graham’s request is fulfilled. In the interim, my advice is to manage email like a boss. Well, like a good boss that’s savvy and effective.
Here are some tips to manage email:
- Use Gmail (yes, especially for business) with the web interface as the primary means and the Microsoft Exchange emulation for IMAP support on the iPhone
- Install the ‘Send and Archive’ button from Gmail Labs so that when you reply to an email it is also removed from the inbox
- Install the ‘Auto-advance’ Gmail Labs option so that whenever you act on an email it automatically takes you to the next email
- Install the ‘Hide Unread Counts’ Gmail Labs option so that you aren’t constantly distracted when new email arrives
- Follow Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen and never read the same email twice in your inbox. Either reply right away if it’ll take less than two minutes or file it into the appropriate folder.
- Don’t reply to every email — that’s right, if you get an email and don’t want to reply, archive it right away instead of letting it sit there and fester.
I’ve been doing Inbox Zero nightly for over three years with this approach and it’s worked great. Inbox Zero doesn’t mean you’ve replied to every email, rather, it means that every email is moved out of your inbox on a daily basis. Manage email like a boss and you’ll be glad you did.
What else? What are some other best practices for managing email?