When I give talks on my book, Slow is Beautiful, I ask people what their time issues are. More and more people say it’s email. Finally, a way to deal with it has emerged: Send out a message telling everyone that you’re declaring e-mail bankruptcy and that you’re starting over anew.
I’ve also thought of leaving on my “out of office” message all the time. That way, no one expects an answer very soon, and as time passes, they’ll forget they ever sent you a message.
The polite thing might be to have an auto-response that says, “ I’m overwhelmed with email. Please accept my apology for not replying in a timely fashion.”
As a Washington Post article indicates, really important people are starting to get out of email altogether. Maybe not having email will be the new status indicator and everyone will follow suit and the problem will be solved!