I wrote this post in 2013 and continue to have people refer to it. Enjoy!
The following is my practice and it has been working for months! My email stress level has dropped significantly so I know it works. They key is to not let emails pile up. This means dealing with them as soon, and purposefully, as you can.
1. Do not EVER open and look at your emails unless:
a) You have at least 10 -20 minutes available to deal with them
b) You are expecting a specific email you need to read immediately
2. If you do open your email account, respond to everything you can immediately and delete them. This is KEY!!!!
3. Start scheduling the times of the day when you will review your emails. Make sure that you have at least 10 – 20 minutes to immediately respond to your emails at that time. Write these times in your schedule book or on a note-card that you tape to your monitor. Your email access program should be completely closed down except at these times.
4. Do not use your email inbox system as an organization tool or you will begin to associate it with being behind and stressed. Instead, put ‘need to respond to…’ notes into your regular “to do” or organizational system. If you need to hold onto an email to respond properly to it, create one “Respond to” folder to store it for later.