This is an excerpt from Taming the eMail Monster by Joan Burge at Office Dynamics:
To help you develop good email processing habits, consider trying some of the tips below.
Turn off the alarm announcing the arrival of a new email. Working on hot project and waiting for critical, urgent information? Check your email on a schedule. In an average business, a couple of times in the morning and a couple of times in the afternoon are generally sufficient.
Keep your time spent in email to a strict limit. Can you manage 10 minutes? Less is more. Use bullets. Make it ten sentences or less. Time yourself to spend less than 3 minutes per email. If it is a quick response, do it now.
Always use a subject line. Change the subject line when the content of the email changes. Set up your email to send immediately, but to receive only when you do a send and receive command.
Use rules and colors to route emails into folders. Schedule a time to check the folders. Use caution, however, and don’t make too many or you will simply be moving the clutter to a more hidden location which would compound your problem.
Set up auto preview so you can see the first sentence of an email without opening it. Often you can respond simply from the preview, thereby saving the time of actually opening the email.
Train the people who send you emails. In working with other colleagues, agree on a rule that the subject line would contain the name of the project. With clients, tell them how to categorize the subjects of their emails so it will make it meaningful to you and allow you to sort and decide quickly.
Is it an FYI(for your information), NRN (no response needed) ASAP, . If the email is about scheduling a meeting and the date is good with you, use the subject line to say “OK, repeat the date and time” then write . There is no body to this email. How quick and efficient is that!
Always include an auto signature at the end of your email that contains your complete contact information. If you do not check your email frequently because you spend much time out of your office, then include a line in your auto signature that tells senders when to expect a response because you check your email at certain times during the day.
When sending an attachment, attach it before you write the body of the email. You will be less likely to forget to attach it. Spend less time and attention dealing with non-information emails. Be ruthless when you clear your inbox. Focus and discipline is necessary to conquer the email monster.
Carbon copy people needlessly. Resist the temptation to send the same email with more and more threads being added. If the content has changed, or something has been resolved during the circulation of the email, delete the superfluous early discussion. It is OK to ‘clean up’ a long winded email to make it easier for everyone to read.
Don’t print out your emails. (Since the invention of email the amount of paper in offices has increased 40%)
Don’t send an email when you are angry. Sometimes a face to face or telephone communication is more appropriate than an email. Ask people how they prefer to communicate with you. Email may not be their style.
Don’t open your email BEFORE you set your priorities for the workday. Following links are costly distractions. Sort email for easier processing; by day received, topic, subject, sender, etc.
Don’t talk on the telephone while you are reading email. Your caller knows that your attention is diverted. Full article at Office Dynamics