There are some awesome lessons in Mihir Patkar's recent Lifehacker piece about what we can learn about inbox management from firefighters. Here's just a taste:
First, take the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which uses four quadrants to determine whether or not something is urgent and important. Everything falls somewhere on this grid, whether it is "urgent but not important" (like small workday interruptions), "not urgent but important" (like exercise) or anywhere in between. Firefighters make snap judgments using this quadrant as a basis: They weigh what must be done immediately against what can be handled after everyone is safe from harm's way.
But how can you put this chart's principle into practice? Apply tags to your emails, color coding each one to fit this Decision Matrix. For instance, red is urgent and important (hence, do it now!), whereas gray is not urgent and not important (so disregard it!).
This nifty little inbox hack is already helping us sort out our Monday priorities.