Salespeople have always been notorious telephone addicts. Now they are getting hooked on E-mail, too. While E-mail is wonderful for keeping clients posted on projects and communicating with in-house sales personnel, it can also be an unproductive drain on your time. That's why Karen Settle, president and CEO of Keystone Marketing Specialists, a $5 million marketing company in Las Vegas, devised a strategy to avoid scrolling through junk mail and unimportant messages.

Settle has created an E-mail subaccount, analogous to an unlisted telephone number, and gives the address out sparingly. Knowing that important e-mail comes into that account, she checks it first. An assistant monitors her general account, which Settle peruses herself when there's time. She says the information influx is worth it because it allows her to nurture relationships with clients and employees.

Other ways to manage E-mail overload:

  • Assign messages priority rankings for internal communications to flag their importance. Your software probably came with rankings (e.g., priority, urgent, etc.) that you can assign to each message.
  • Stipulate that employees list action items at the top of the message.
  • Refuse the temptation to reply to copies of messages. That way you can supervise managers to whom you've delegated control by checking in with them later.