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Justice Diven

I was really surprised to get a response to my e-mail from you today, but it meant a lot. Given how much I struggle to keep up with my e-mail, I can imagine how difficult it is for you. As David Coleman suggested, you might use filters and key words that colleagues and friends can use to ensure their e-mails make it to the folder you'll look at first. Tim Ferriss has also written several blog posts on this topic... this is one of my favorites:

Kim Cuddeback

Similar to a few others, I have found that multiple e-mail addresses have helped me out immensely. I have one for shopping sites and other things that require an e-mail address, one for newsletters, etc... things I want to see, but can't keep up with day-to-day. I have a personal e-mail, 2 work e-mails,and a community group I co-organize. The work e-mails and community group get forwarded to my personal address, so I can run triage on them together then only answer the most important first. I think the same thing can be done with aliases, but haven't figured out how that works and don't want to hassle changing everything over.

David Coleman

In a similar vein to Jay, I'd suggest having multiple emails or at least setting filters for direct email as opposed to notifications. You can set a spam filter to only let mail for those in your address book to come through and the rest go into another pool. Work through the pool as time permits. Depending on your mail tool, you may be able to tell it to remove anything more than 1 or 2 months old from the "not in my address book" pool. For those that aren't in your personal address book and you don't respond in that time they will be removed from the queue.

I personally make very heavy use of filtering into different folders based upon the source and various lists. I prioritize my reading of the filtered mail. Additionally, I also use a couple email aliases and filter based upon them. I place mail lists at the bottom of my queue and scan them as time permits. When I return from time away I purge all mailing lists and start from scratch as they are low priority.

Jay Godse

Just tell people that you won't answer email. You don't owe them anything.

If you want to interact with your readers, use Google Moderator, or, or some similar service where people can ask questions, and up-vote questions. Then, answer the questions which have the most votes and work your way down. Or answer the most interesting questions. Or answer the easiest ones to answer.

One nice thing about these kinds of services is that users have to log in using credentials from Google, Yahoo, or whatever. That tends to limit spam because Google/Yahoo etc tend to require real users behind an account. Another nice thing is that the questions are publicly visible, which encourages people to temper their language.

This kind of tool will allow you to serve the largest number people with the least effort. has a free plan, as probably does Google Moderator.


Using the financial example, you can't take a vacation from debts as it only makes it worse so the same holds for emails! Also declaring email bankruptcy is the same as bankruptcy - it means you couldn't manage your emails or your finances properly. What works depends on your personality, some get a Blackberry, others have a dedicated time for email responses, to be effective you need dedicated time with no interruptions (try doing just 2 tasks each taking only 1 hour independently but only allowing 30 seconds of time 2work on each b4 switching 2the other task!) so I prefer to respond after normal work hours & carry a BB for the urgent if necessary.

If you're email is available to the public then you have a unique situation where anyone can make a request, I suggest you have two emails, one for those that you actually do business with and the generic email. Let people know that the generic email might not get a response. Why? Just as you don't feel compelled to buy everything you see being pitched to you, you shouldn't feel compelled to respond to every email being sent!

Also I see Email Bankruptcy as gateway to Task Bankruptcy, Job Performance Bankruptcy and all around Competence Bankruptcy! cheers

Eliza Brock

I find that it isn't an email vacation unless you don't read your email.

Last year I took an entire weekend and made it internet-free. I turned off all the computers and disabled everything except incoming calls on my phone.

My thought is that if anything is that urgent or important you aren't going to send an email about it- you pick up the phone and call someone. So, there isn't a huge risk that you're going to miss something incredibly important+urgent by not checking email for two days.

It was incredibly liberating and a great adventure to go places without GPS or doing research on the internet ahead of time.


We don’t feel obliged to jump every time the phone rings or to read everything bit of mail that ends up on our doorstep. Why should email be any different?

If someone really wants to reach us, they should not let a single email suffice as an attempt.

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