I was reading this post from the Panta Rei blog (I strongly suggest to add it to your aggregator!).

It talks about an article on the Wall Street Journal that says How You Handle Your E-mail Inbox Says A Lot About You .

Following the post, I discovered myself in the author’s situation:

What does it mean that I have a desire to empty my inbox each day? It could be “how Mom and Dad raised you” as the article says, or it could be that Lean thinking has seeped into my e-mail habits.

Now that I know that I’m Lean in the way I handle email :), I can paste here the author’s consideration about using the 5s principles on your email:

Sort the e-mails you don’t need
– Read e-mail. Act on it or delete it.
– Junk. Outlook does this for me automatically.
– Spam filters are set so that large numbers of e-mail never see the inbox.

Straighten the inbox, as in “a place for everything and everything in its place”
– Put e-mails you need to act on in the proper folder. This may be right in the inbox or separate folders.
– Sequence and prioritize for later action.

Sweep in 5S is cleaning to prevent future cleaning. E-mail 5S sweep is to get rid of e-mails and prevent them coming back.
– Block, don’t delete. Blocking the senders of spam who make it into the inbox can prevent repeat offenders.
– Unsubscribe to newsgroups or other e-mail marketing rather than deleting them.
– Don’t reply to informational e-mails with “Thanks” and certainly don’t CC everyone. If you want to say thanks do it by voice or better yet in person.

Standardize how you handle e-mail
– Check e-mail at certain times of day rather than playing whack-a-mole with every new “you’ve got mail”.
– Agree to limit who is Carbon Copied (CC) so that extra inbox material is not created.
– Spend a set amount of time on e-mail checking.
– Let people know how best to get a hold of you if it’s urgent (other than e-mail).

– Spend enough time on a message to get it done and out of the way. If you can’t don’t start it and create WIP.
– At the same time, leave some Standard WIP at the end of the day. For non-urgent items send out replies or requests at the end of the day so that you have actionable replies waiting in your inbox by the next morning or next time you set to check e-mails.
– Don’t check e-mail. This might seem counterintuitive but if we all did it we would all have less e-mail in our inboxes. Think about it.