Merlin Mann from 43 Folders has a strategy called Inbox Zero. This falls into line with David Allan's GTD Strategy. The objective is to turn your emails into actions and keep your inbox clear.
Sounds like a good idea, but what a problem it can be. I get 300-400 emails every day and it is a real chore to keep ahead of it. Probably 30% of my emails are asking me to do something, 20% coordinating a meeting, another 20% updating me, and the rest a mix of CCing me and other items that I probably do not need. I have very good spam filters, so I essentially get no spam.
I use an application called ClearContext to manage my Inbox Zero Strategy. It provides 3 very valuable tools that free you from that pile of emails.
The first tool is email prioritization. As emails come into your inbox, they are automatically color coded and based on a priority set for each contact. The priority includes 5 levels: junk - gray, low - black, normal - green, high - blue, and very high - red. You can then highlight a specific email thread and change its priority from maybe normal to very high. Then all the emails already sent on this thread and any additional emails will be set to red.
The second tool is email tagging and filing. When you first install the system, it goes through all of your email and creates topics around the folders that you save emails in. Then as new email comes in, ClearContext automatically suggest a topic to tag the email by and in one button can automatically file the email in the right folder. This helps you quickly file your email and get find them based on topic.
The third tool allows you to automatically convert an email to a tasks or meeting. I copies the contents of the email to the notes section of the tasks or meeting and you can even set a reminder. I then use Franklin Covey to prioritize my tasks and get to work.
These tools have been very valuable and I highly recommend them if you need to manage a lot of email. There is more to ClearContext then these tools and I will go over them in a later blog article. You can download a trial version from their site and it is straight-forward to install.
I have met the CEO and he seems to get it. He is nicely connected with the people in this segment of them market and I like his vision.