To manage email effectively apply the three R rule–read, respond, and remove. After you open an email, do the following:
1. Read it entirely.
2. Respond to the email.
3. Remove the message from your inbox.
When you manage email in this fashion, you have to deal with that email only once and can move on to the next email. This approach reduces inbox clutter, encourages immediate response and action, and eliminates the need to reread emails (either for response or filing). Just as no one wants to file a huge stack of papers, no one wants to re-read and file a long list of email messages.
Adopt the same process with your email inbox as your inbox on your desk: a place that information should come into and move out of quickly. The goal is to create an empty ‘in-box’. Only email that you haven’t yet read or still must take action on should remain in your inbox. All other email should ideally be removed from the in-box so that you can view easily those emails that need action or response. This approach keeps your inbox current and highlights the items you must take action on.