1. Block 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time daily to process and organize emails. Set a timer.
2. Check email in the morning after you have accomplished a task. Resist the temptation to look at it when you first walk into the office (although it may need to be scanned quickly).
3. Sort email by sender or subject – it is an efficient way to go through your inbox.
4. Set up specific folders to the left of the inbox and drag email there. Examples of folders: To Do, Waiting For, Read & Review, Upcoming Meetings/Events, Cases, Clients, Projects.
5. Move email out of the inbox. It’s not a filing cabinet. Relocate email to the files folders to the left of the inbox, the desktop, personal documents, shared files, tasks, calendar, etc.
6. Set up frequently used folders at the top left of the inbox. Now they will be in two places – under favorites at the top and below. (Hint: Subfolders cannot be moved to favorites.)
7. Use the 4D’s of Decision-Making: delete it, do it, delegate it, defer it (Source: Microsoft Outlook).
8. Change the email subject line when you reply so the email topic is clear.
9. Be vigilant about sending emails– often a face to face conversation is better and faster.
10. Use “Reply All” judiciously. Usually a reply to the sender only makes more sense. Not everyone needs to know you’re going on vacation and can’t attend the meeting.
Note: This article appeared in the Spring, 2011 Family Law Review.