Life of a Software Program Manager

A first person accounting of what it is really like to manage a commercial software product.

How I Manage Email

Posted by Program Manager on June 5, 2006

One of the most frequent questions I get is how to I manage the volume of email on a daily basis. Here are a couple quick tips:

  • Use Rules. I have emails that come from my management chain, product management, and my directs automatically go to a dedicated folder that I ready every day
  • Filter out Work SPAM. Every company has announcements that go out via email. These are usually just reposts of what ended up on the intranet. I have all emails from these addresses automatically go to my work SPAM folder, and I never read them
  • Don’t read emails that are more than 3 business days old. This may sound strange, but if I don’t get to an email within three days, I stop worrying about it. If it is really important, it will be resent, or I’ll get a phone call about it.
  • Isolate Customer Email. All customer emails should be sent to their own folder. Read these ASAP. No one is more important than the customer, and if they are taking the time to send you an email, you need to take the time to read and respond.
  • Never Delete Anything. I have hundreds of emails that I’ve never read, but I don’t delete a single one. All of my emails get archived monthly, and I use a desktop search program to make all of the information accessible. It doesn’t matter which one, they all work basically the same. Just make sure that you have a record of everything you’ve received and everything you’ve sent.

I’m not advocating any particular method, and I’d be interested to know how others manage hundreds of emails a day. These are just a few tips that I follow to keep my Inbox manageable.

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