1. Make appointments to check email. Trying to keep on top of your emails all day long is a time-suck and the enemy of concentration. Choose your least productive times of day and schedule a meeting with yourself to check and deal with your email (keep high-productivity times for your most important tasks). This might mean half an hour twice a day, or maybe 10 minutes at the top of every hour. Find what works for you and, if possible, close your email window outside of these designated times so you can fully focus on other work.
2. Have a filing system. Different coaches advise different strategies, but I like to file emails away in topic-based folders as I deal with them. This means that all that’s left in my inbox are emails that are still to be handled or which require replies. This helps me keep on top of what’s still left to do as it is completely visible and uncluttered by junk. It also means that I can easily find, sort and archive past messages.
3. Delete ruthlessly. If an email does not need to be kept or handled, delete it – now. Delete unnecessary messages each time you check email, don’t leave them to be cleared out some other time as they will just build up. And if you find yourself repeatedly deleting promotional emails without any interest in their content (special offers from the supermarket you used before you moved house and changed allegiance; vouchers from a maternity-wear shop but you’re no longer pregnant), take the 30 seconds you need to scroll down and unsubscribe now.