Randall Stross looks to Thomas Edison and H.L. Mencken for analog answers to managing electronic mail in today’s New York Times piece Struggling to Evade the E-Mail Tsunami. In particular, journalist Mencken responded to every piece of mail he received, but didn’t let it overwhelm him:
"YET at the same time that Mencken teaches us the importance of avoiding overnight e-mail indebtedness, he also reminds us of the need to shield ourselves from incessant distractions during the day when individual messages arrive. The postal service used to pick up and deliver mail twice a day, which was frequent enough to permit Mencken to arrange to meet a friend on the same day that he extended the invitation. Yet it was not so frequent as to interrupt his work."
This is almost exactly what we advise in our IMS Daily Workflow. Set aside times to process your email and focus on your work the rest of the day.
There’s also brief mention of technological solutions to the problem; including ClearContext.