A recent study of 180 or so executives reveals that today's manager can expect to spend at least 2 hours per day dealing with email, adding up to a staggering 10 years over the course of a working life.
Even that wouldn't be so bad, but the study also reported that 3.5 of those years are used up while dealing with what the study's authors referred to as "inbox debris".
Now, before you go hitting the "delete all" button, realize that the study was commissioned by phone headset manufacturer Plantronics, who were kind enough to offer five tips on managing email (along with my comments, in parentheses, below).
5 Dos/Don'ts on Managing Your Email
DON'T let your inbox manage you -- block out time during the day to tackle your email (saying "every five minutes" doesn't count)
DO think about the best way to communicate -- for complex discussions, use the phone first and use email to confirm the points agreed and discussed (since most people talk much faster than they type, this practice allows for quicker give/take than email)
DO turn off your auto alert -- this can be really distracting (and can lead to drops in productivity as tasks are constantly interrupted)
DON'T get in the habit of replying to emails immediately, you'll set a precedent that you can't maintain (at least without sacrificing some quality of life)
DON'T copy the world on emails or your replies (the world will thank you for your restraint!)