Your inbox is a barometer of your decision making ability.
Everytime someone sends you an email, you are being asked for a decision. Usually a small trivial decision. Occasionally a large and significant decision.
We have six, and only six options of how to handle an email.
Most email falls into this category.
Act on it and then file it
If the answer is straight forward and the necessary information is handy, reply immediately. When you have replied then immediately file or delete it.
Allocate time to work on it and then file it
If the time to prepare an answer will take too long, then open your diary and reserve a time to deal with it.
Delegate it and then file it
If it should be done by someone else, delegate it. If you need to follow up create an entry in your todo list or diary to remind you to check on progress.
If you need it for future.
Stop it happening again.
For managers this option is critical. Ask yourself this question, should I have ever received this email in the first place?
Hints that this may be the case:
You are on cc: or even worse bcc:
You are part of a large distribution list
The email is not directly relevant to you, your business or creating value for your customers
The email does not ask you for a decision
The email is poorly presented or contains evidence of weak thinking.
If you should not have received the email, then act immediately to make sure you don’t receive such emails again.