Research by a company, admittedly one with a stake in highlighting e-mail overload, “found that most employees spend at least a third of their time at work on e-mail.” Inside counsel may log something like that, or at least feel that consumed by e-mail. Therefore, It has been a frequent topic for this blog to pass on advice about e-mail productivity. A few more are at hand from the NY Times, April 21, 2012 at B8. (1) Make one point per e-mail. This discipline pushes you to think about what takeaway you want the reader to get, not to mention that many readers never even read to the second and third points. (2) “Don’t over-use the high priority flag. It is the tragedy of the commons: if every message shouts priority, none has it. (3) Don’t forward chain e-mails.
The piece makes two other points not previously addressed by this blog. Consider how quickly you should respond. You can calibrate your timing to the importance of the message or the rank of the e-mailer. Second, consider this simple rule of thumb: “If you had to spend the price of a stamp to send this e-mail, would you?”