I recently got an email from a friend that said simply "I am getting too many e-mails. How do I organize them? Sometimes I need to research an answer, but then forget for whom it was and I totally forget about it as they get buried. How do you manage your e mails?"
Here's how I do it:
No software email client: I used to use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, but I found that by switching to a web interface for email I have much more control over it. I have multiple inbound email addresses -- two work addresses, a gmail address, an Apple email address, an alumni address, etc. I have all my mail forward into my personal email account, which is a Google Apps-hosted address. Here's what that looks like:
Using the web-based email interface also lets me leverage all sorts of great advanced stuff, like using Rapportive, Boomerang, and many other email tools that I rely on. Also, using the Google Apps interface for my email allows me to use Google's powerful "important and unread" feature which prioritizes emails from people I know or that Google otherwise thinks I should see first.
Sanebox: I further filter my incoming email using something called Sanebox. It's a great tool that filters out known newsletter and other bulk type email, so instead of all that email bombarding my inbox the moment it comes in, I only get two emails each day from Sanebox, one at 9am and the other at 4pm, with a list of all the email it's collected. I can quickly scan it and move important emails to my inbox. The rest skip my inbox. Here's what one of the digest emails from Sanebox looks like:
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