8 Business Leaders Share Their Best Strategies for Handling Email

'No one ever got promoted because they had an empty inbox.'

Courtesy of Unsplash

Email often feels like a never-ending battle, with an endless stream of incoming emails keeping your unread count at a stress-inducing level. Coming up with a strategy to manage your inbox takes work, but getting it under control can be game-changing. Here, eight business leaders share their email wisdom with Thrive Global.

1. Mark Cuban, businessman, investor, author and philanthropist

From Cuban's Thrive Questionnaire 

"Love it. Live on it. Saves me hours and hours every day. No meetings. No phone calls. All because of email. I set my schedule."

2. Morra Aarons-Mele, author and founder of Women Online

From Aarons-Mele's Thrive Questionnaire

"I channel the wise words of computer scientist Cal Newport: No one ever got promoted because they had an empty inbox. I try to stay on top of it, but also remind myself that it’s not where my true value lies."

3. Vijay Pande, venture capitalist

From Pande's Thrive Questionnaire 

"I find batch processing email in several bursts throughout the day to be the most efficient approach. I’ll do a first pass and flag all my “to do’s” so I know what’s urgent at any given moment, and then work my way through the to do’s. I try to keep the number well below 100 at any given time, ideally at ~30 (zero is inefficient since it means often doing work that turns out to later be unnecessary). When the number gets too high, I make time to handle it."

4. Susie Lee, CEO and co-founder of Siren

From Lee's Thrive Questionnaire

"It’s a natural to-do list, but email is more reactive and less strategic than a real to-do list. I respond and compose emails in bursts 3x per day. These bursts are like diving underwater, holding your breath, and swimming towards the shore."

5. Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn

From Weiner's Thrive Questionnaire 

"To receive less email, I try sending less email. Also try to clear out all unread email at least once each morning and each night. Lastly, I don’t send email after 11 p.m. or before 5 a.m."

6. Derek Handley, Chief Innovation Officer at Human Ventures and the founder of Aera

From Handley's Thrive Questionnaire

"I find it really helpful to spend as much time offline as possible -- my goal for 2017 is to work up to spending half the week disconnected from email. As useful as it can be for certain types of work I think instant communication is a modern form of addiction, and an affliction on contemporary lifestyles. Constant digital connection can hold back creativity, independent thinking, peace of mind and presence in the real world. I try to allocate time to email (say 5 hours a week, in one chunk) where I can process my inbox in a more thoughtful way. I think of it a bit like the old days when the mailman came and dropped off your mail, and then you handed him back your batch of replies from last week."

7. Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.

From Bergh's Thrive Questionnaire 

"I check regularly but I am purposely not on email all day. If I have an urgent question, I’ll call or text. And when I’m in meetings — and that’s most of my work day — I make an effort to be present and not multi-task. Instead, I run through email in the morning first thing; again late morning; and again end of the workday in the office. Occasionally I check in the evening at home. I’m also very conscious of the “signal” the time of my emails send to people — so I try not to send emails late at night or extremely early in the morning."

8. Karen Fondu, president of L’Oréal Paris USA for over 30 years

From Fondu's Thrive Questionnaire 

"I utilize my commute on the train to answer and send emails. When I am home, I immediately disconnect to be with family. I also have a rule: No emails on the weekend."

Wisdom, Work Smarter, Advice, Technology

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!