On any given day in 2010, the average corporate user sends and receives roughly 110 messages, according to the latest e-mail Statistics Report compiled by The Radicati Group Inc. Of that total, 74 are received messages and 36 are sent. Of those 74 messages received, 13 were reported to be spam. The number of e-mails will only continue to increase through 2014, hitting 119 daily messages sent and received.
Simply trying to manage your spam messages alone is taxing and time consuming, nonetheless messages related to business and/or personal affairs.
Strategies for dealing with too much e-mail vary, but it boils down to organization and time management. For myself, I usually spend time in the morning sifting through e-mail after e-mail, while others leave it to the end of the day. Either way, there seems to be a specific time and method that most people use to tackle the inbox.
I have put to use my latest weapon which is the Priority Inbox feature offered by Google. With this tool, Gmail learns to automatically filter e-mails into three different locations that I created: Important and unread, Important follow-up and Everything else.
"I'm training to just get through important and unread and either respond immediately or label as follow-up, and then try to respond to all the follow-ups by the end of the day," my coworker said. "It has really changed the way I work throughout the day. If anything, it saves me valuable time at the beginning and middle of the day. I am not sorting through e-mails until the end of the day when I am winding down."
With more business being done through e-mail and other methods of telecommunication - whether it's internal or external communication - etiquette also is important to many busy executives. This includes ensuring a subject line is not cryptic and copying only those who need to be copied on a message.
Even though e-mail has made business for people across the globe more efficient, individuals still spend too much time staring at their computer. If it is used properly, it makes communication much more efficient and much more rapid. The major issue with communication oriented in e-mail or meetings, is that people that don't use the tool the right way and are not specific in their initiative and don't have the right directive, in addition to people cc-ing half the world.
Protocol aside, a simple strategy for dealing with the 100 to 200 messages you may receive daily is to read it once, then get rid of it.
Many execs also noted that while spam messages are frustrating, the so-called bacn messages - e-mail that someone signs up for but may not want right now, such as alerts or newsletters - can be just as annoying.
The process of e-mail management has become numbing. Your inbox doesn't have to be at zero, but it should be manageable.
With all of those messages flying back and forth, it's easy to get lost in your in-box when trying to find something from the past. However, for those of you who use Gmail service from Google, there are a few little secrets that can be extremely useful for helping you find an e-mail in a giant haystack.
Below are some search tips for sifting through those messages you do decide to keep that I adopted from David Pogue of the New York Times:
The most important search term most likely has something to do with who you sent an e-mail to, or who sent the message to you. By typing a word that you're looking for and then amending the search with from: or to: you can narrow your search to specific people. For example, if you are searching for e-mails about a wedding from Rachel you could type:
One of my favorite advanced search features is the ability to snoop through different folders within your in-box. You can search just your in-box, trash or even your spam folder, if you're so inclined. The way you do this is to type your search term and then add the words in: followed by the folder you hope to search. A simple example is searching for an e-mail about Nuskin anti-aging products in your spam folder:
Another useful way to cull your inbox is being able to search for e-mails specifically with attachments. To do this, you can simply type a sender's name and add has:attachment to the end of the search.
If you know the name of the attachment, you can search for that too.
Time is always of the essence with e-mails, and searching for them with dates can be incredibly useful. To do this in Gmail, you can simply add the words after: or before: followed by the date you want to search.
Gabrielle's dinner after:2010/10/20
Read, unread, chat or important.
Finally, Gmail lets users search through e-mail messages that have been read, unread, starred or are designated as important in a priority in-box. When typing in the search term, just add the word "is" followed by a colon and the status of the message. You can also search through a chat message with this feature too.