Expert Tips to Get Your E-mail Under Control

Successful people didn't get successful by allowing e-mail to rule their lives. And yet for most of us, it's all too easy to get buried under the deluge of mail that arrives every single day.

So I got to wondering: How do business leaders and other successful types manage their mail? What secrets do they know that the rest of us don't? Here's what I learned from a CEO, a marketing guru, a small-business owner, and a Twitter celebrity.

Loren Bendele, Savings.com

Bendele is the CEO of Savings.com, a site that aggregates deals and discount codes from around the Web. (Full disclosure: I'm an occasional contributor.) I asked him how he manages the whopping 300-500 e-mails he gets per day. His tips:
  • Be careful what you subscribe to. Do you really need more e-mails, alerts, etc.? Will you read them?
  • Encourage people on your team that you regularly communicate with to send concise, well-thought-out e-mails. If people regularly send long e-mails, ask them if it would be better to discuss in person or over the phone.
  • Let people know that if you're in the "to" field you'll read it, but if you're in the "cc" field you'll scan quickly.
  • Be careful about filing important e-mails for later. You may not get to them. It's better to handle them now, or leave them in the inbox for you to handle at end of day, that night, or that weekend.
  • It is best to clear your inbox at the end of each day. If you can't, at least once a week.
  • Done be shy about deleting. Either respond quickly, resolve it, make a calendar appointment to do something about it, or delete it.

Noah Kagan, AppSumo

As regular readers may recall, AppSumo offers bundled deals on things like SEO services, marketing tools, and productivity software. Kagan, who started the site, says he gets an average of 200 e-mails per day. His management secrets:
  • Check e-mail twice a day. Read this Mark Andreesen post.
  • Use followup.cc religiously to never forget things.
  • Learn to type faster.
  • Write w/ fewer words.
  • Set up more canned responses.
  • Don't use e-mail notifications of any kind.

Mitch Joel, Book Author, Marketing Guru

Joel is the author of "Six Pixels of Separation," a book about digital marketing, social media, and personal branding. In his blog post, The New Rules of Email, he shares the following advice:
Rule 1 - Control. When the BlackBerry first came on the market, everyone set the platform to notify them (be it by ringing, vibrating and/or flashing) when a new email arrived. This was simply a functionality and not a rule. You have to learn how to control the technology. Do not let the technology control you. I turn off all notifications for email. Period. I look at my email when the feeling strikes.

Meeting Boy, Twitter Celebrity

I refer to Meeting Boy as a Twitter "celebrity" not just because he's amassed a following of over 90,000, but because he leveraged the platform to go from total obscurity to (relative) Internet fame. How does he handle e-mail overload? With tongue planted firmly in cheek, of course:
  • 112 unread e-mails? Delete 'em all and let God sort them out.
  • I set my out-of-office to say "I'm a busy man. It may take several hours to get back to you, so figure it out yourself and I'll take the credit."
  • I use e-mail rules to sort my inbox by project. Then I have it delete anything that wasn't sent by my boss in a panic.
  • I answer all my e--mails, except for the ones where people call me to say they sent an email and then stop by to talk about it. I never help those people.
  • Once a day I walk by the server room and kick the power cord, then ignore everything. When people ask, I say, "Sorry, I never got that. You know how e-mail is around here."
Okay, readers, your turn: What pro-level e-mail management tricks do you keep up your sleeve? And which of these expert tips do you think you might integrate into your own routine? Speak up in the comments!

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