How to avoid email overload

If time is our most valuable resource these days, then email is the scourge of the modern age. These 13 tips will help. 

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Recently I received a disturbing email from a friend informing me that he had replied to 7,545 emails in 2011. Included in his email—and the irony is not lost that he sent an email—was an analysis of how much time he had spent replying to those emails.

By his “conservative” calculation, he estimated he had devoted a full 45 days (19 percent of his annual workable time) replying to email last year. Of course this is just the time spent replying to emails; it does not account for his time reading all his incoming emails.

Naturally, this made me wonder: Is my friend managing his time and email correctly? I’ve received many of his emails, and I feel confident saying “no.” Why? For one thing, he’s not a professional communicator.

As PR pros, we have a distinct advantage—namely organization and writing skills—over other professionals to bring greater sanity, efficiency, and effectiveness to email correspondence. I get highly discouraged when working with fellow PR professionals who do not communicate clearly in email. To me, that’s adding to dysfunction and ineffectiveness, not to mention doing a discredit to the terms “PR pro” and “professional communicator.”

Below are some suggestions for managing email:

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