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Spend Less Time on Your Email

It's hard for me to listen to any productivity advice that includes the suggestion that I turn off my email notification system. I know that it's a waste of time to keep returning to my inbox every time my message detector pops up--I've read Clive Thompson's article on interruption science that reveals that this tactic costs me hours of productivity each day. But I like getting email (hint, hint) and I like to think that there are some messages that come my way that are so important that if I must read them immediately. (Hold the phone--Southwest Airlines is having a system-wide sale!)

But the fact that it does not bend to my irrationality is no reason to completely dismiss a great new list of cranking-through-email suggestions from the folks at Web Worker Daily. They give six choices for how to deal with each email when you're clearing out your inbox:

  1. respond immediately
  2. tag it "@reply" if you can't respond now (and archive it)
  3. delete it
  4. delegate it (forward and delete or archive)
  5. put it on your to-do list (and then archive), if it has an action in it that needs to be done later
  6. archive it if you need to refer to it later.
(Rick's got some other great tips in the previous post, too.) Overall, it's a pretty great way to keep your inbox totally clean, even if you like to visit it dozens of times every day.