From my upcoming book–the Touch Once, Zero Inbox
How to deal with external email?
Email coming from outside your organization is a tough topic and the way you handle it obviously depends on your role. If you are in sales or customer service these messages are of utmost importance to you (when talking about external emails I do not mean Junk / Spam emails but legitimate emails from business partners), if you are working in a more internal role these messages can distract you a great deal from your actual job.
It doesn’t matter though for the purpose of how to handle these messages. I have a simple rule defined, that moves all messages that are coming from external sources into a folder. Depending on your job role you can then decide if this is the first folder to open in the morning or something you look at once a week to see if there is anything in there that needs your attention.
In my case I check this folder usually at the end of the week, act on a couple of the messages and delete the rest. 90% of these emails are from companies I have no actual business relationship with – they just got my email address and try to advertise to me or introduce their company.If you leave these emails in your regular inbox they will distract you from what is really important and by moving them away I reduce the amount of emails that focus on by at least 15% to 20%.
Sure, these numbers differ depending on your outside visibility and your job role, but every email that you move away and only have to pay limited attention to frees critical time for doing “real” work. By collecting all these emails in one folder you will realize that you go through them much faster and more effective than ever before.