receive over 600 email messages each day (with virtually no Spam, so
they are all legitimate) and respond to most via Blackberry. How do I
triage 600 messages? I use these 10 rules to mentally score each email:
E-mail marked with a “high importance” exclamation point must pass the
“cry wolf” test. Is the sender a habitual “high importance” e-mailer?
Are these e-mails actually important? If not, the sender’s emails lose
2. I give points to high-priority people: my senior management, my direct reports, my family members and my key customers.
3. I do the same for high-priority subjects: critical staff issues, health issues and major financial issues.
I rate email based on the contents of the “To,” “cc” and “bcc” fields.
If I am the only person in the To field, the e-mail gets points. If I
am in the To field with a dozen other people, it’s neutral. If I’m only
cc’d, it loses points. A bcc loses a lot of points, since I believe
email should always be transparent. E-mail should not be used as a
5. I penalize email with emotional words, capital letters or anything less than civil language.
6. I downgrade email messages longer than five BlackBerry screens. Issues that complex require a phone call.
Email responses that say only “Thanks,” “OK” or “Have a nice day” are
social pleasantries that I appreciate, but move to the bottom of my
8. Email with colorful backgrounds, embedded graphics or mixed font sizes lose points.
I separate email into three categories – that which is just
informational (an FYI), that which requires a short response and that
which requires a lengthy, thoughtful response. I leave the lengthy
responses to the end of the day.
10. More than 3 emails about a
topic requires a phone call or meeting. Trying to resolve complex
issues via and endless ping pong of emails is inappropriate.
These 10 rules really help me navigate my 600 emails each day.
we actually automated the rules above and senders realized that their
e-mail had to be truly relevant to get read, folks might think twice
before pressing Send. The less important matters can wait until the
next staff meeting. With some enforced discipline, we may be able to
learn how to better communicate with one another more effectively and
get back to our creative work.
One more truly controversial idea
– Companies that send bulk e-mail should be forced to pay before an
e-mail gateway delivers their mail. How many newsletters have you
really “opted in” for? A micropayment fee system will keep companies
honest about their opt-in and unsubscribe policies by aligning