As a producer, I get ALOT of email and after using some of the tips from Friday's post and books like The Hamster Revolution, I have certainly solved some of the problems of email overload, but one thing remains prominent and that is what I like to call the email tennis match. Here's how it goes:
Someone sends me an email and wants to meet up. I propose a date and hit send.
I move on to the next email. It's someone asking a question, I answer and hit send.
Back to my inbox.
Email 1 has just replied that the date and time doesn't work for them and email 2 has just replied with more questions. I answer both quickly and try to get to email three...
In comes emails from email 1 and 2. They are both responding to the previous email making it almost impossible to even get to read email three.
It's like I was playing tennis. If I hit the ball over the net, the other person has to hit back. Now I'm playing tennis with two people and then when email three comes in, three people and so it goes until the other side of the court is completely filled and there I am swinging at everything that comes my way. I'm missing some, I'm getting frustrated and it feels near impossible.
Here's what I do and it may or may not work for you. Everyone has different systems.
I wait to swing.
Basically, I answer up to 10 emails at one time, but I save each as a draft. Once I'm at a good place where I feel I am significantly caught up, I send the emails out. Then, if new replies come in I send quick answers, but for the most part I have kept myself from being bombarded.
Books like Hamster Revolution help me with teaching people email etiquette, so I can mark things with "No need to reply if this is all fine" etc. and that keeps people from sending too many emails.
So next time your inbox is 40 and you're love, try this method out. You never know, you may just come back and win the match.