The subject of e-mail is a somewhat controversial one. On the one hand, e-mail can act as a great boon to personal productivity, serving as an efficient communication tool by enabling knowledge workers to stay in touch with each other and save valuable work time by focusing their responses to the specific topics and questions that the messages present.
On the other hand, e-mail can act as a great impediment to personal productivity, serving as a consummate time waster by relentlessly vying for knowledge workers' attention and then forcing them to wade through inordinate amounts of data to separate the spam from the important mail so that they can respond accordingly.
The love/hate relationship that so many knowledge workers seem to have with their e-mail Inboxes is a true reflection of e-mail's dual nature as both a technological boon and the bane of their existence. It also explains why so many workers regard getting a handle on their e-mail as such a crucial first-step in achieving personal productivity at work.
As I see it, effectively dealing with your e-mail is a two-step process. First, you need to do some radical Inbox housecleaning. Second, you need to learn how to perform regular Inbox housekeeping that will keep it that way.
This chapter takes on the first step by leading you through basic strategies for getting rid of all the messages you don't need and won't ever do anything with and then organizing the messages that ...