Just as I train people during seminars and one-on-one sessions to use a RAFT to navigate through the stacks of paper and keep from getting swamped, so will the RAFT method allow you to experience smooth sailing through your volumes of email.
My RAFT consists of four planks: READ -- ACT – FILE – TOSS. Every item, whether paper or electronic, goes into one of these categories. A decision is made immediately. You know where every paper goes, how to find it again, and when to follow up.
Reading materials can be divided into two groups:
1. Casual reading: It would be good to have a chance to read it, but there's no deadline, and it doesn't relate to a current project. Have a casual reading folder set up that you can move this to and then periodically block a time in your schedule specifically for casual reading.
2. Reading with an accompanying action: Move it to your task list. If you're using an electronic task list, drag it over and attach a date to it. If you’re using a paper-based tickler system, print the mail and drop it into the appropriate date.