Email overload tends to go up the more senior you get; executive level managers can easily get a few hundred incoming work-related messages a day. This is so commonplace that they don’t even stop to complain about it; they either cope with the crushing stress or they delegate their Inbox processing to an assistant.
I’ve known one glaring exception, however. I knew one senior manager, a VP of a hi-tech Fortune 500, who had a perennially near-empty inbox, and was receiving a paltry few dozen emails a day. I inquired as to how he got to this enviable state, and he was happy to share. It was quite simple, in a way: this manager simply empowered those under him to do their jobs, and insisted they NOT copy him on email they could handle without him. Rather than hoard updates and status reports he could very well do without, rather than have his people cover their behinds by copying him on everything under the sun, he kept his time and mind free and uncluttered, which allowed him to actually manage – guide, role model and mentor those below him in the organization.
Of course when I say it was simple, that is not accurate: it takes a very unusual personality to manage in this manner, and to overcome old customs and the entrenched attitudes of those around one. Only one in a hundred managers may have what it takes.
Can you be the one?