Harvard Business School has a site called "Working Knowledge" and I just happened to come across a link to an article there called The Leadership Workshop: Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload (found it over the blog of Mike Arrington, a great guy I used to work with after I just recently stumbled over his blog)
The article has lots of great advice. For me the e-mail overload has gotten to the point where I hardly answer non-work related e-mails any more (it's easier to get a response from me by comments on here than by e-mail, at least as long a the volume here is so much smaller than my mail volume), which is really bad when I occasionally get mails from old friends etc. that I haven't talked to in ages and I completely forget to mail them back, but the whole combination of work and my MSc. has really killed the concept of having spare time for me.
I do however think a lot about how to improve on e-mail and would really like to get back in the e-mail business - there's still money there, potentially a lot, for whoever comes up with the right productivity enhancing tools.
The very fact that e-mail is such a vital tool makes the value of an application that can save just a few percent extra of your time ridiculously high in a business setting.
At the same time I think pure e-mail is too limited. Testing the water with this blog has convinced me that there is an important space for integrating mail with web based technologies to take more control over how you communicate.
Combining direct communication with feeds of information that is relevant but not personal could do much to reduce the overload that is mainly occuring because what is treated by the reader as a one to one medium (it is likely the message is intended for you) is being treated by the sender as a one to many medium (the message likely has some relevance to all recipients, but is unlikely to need immediate attention from most of them).
While waiting for the technologies to get sorted out, this article provides useful advice for improving the usefullness of the e-mails you do have to deal with.
Great to hear from you, Vidar!
I came across your blog not long ago - can't remember where.. Funny how easy it is to stumble over people you know online :)