We all get them—emails that are supposed to answer a question, or advance an idea, but instead cover your screen with imposing paragraphs of filler and beg to be shoved in the "Later" bin. The Anywired work blog recommends forcing yourself to tackle those messages immediately, but by using a simple mental filter:
Scan the email until you can sum up its purpose in a sentence—for example, "They're telling me they like my portfolio and found it inspiring," or "They hate my guts because of that post I wrote." Then respond to the sentence you've defined, rather than the email as a whole.
You should, of course, also look to see who the email is from, but the "single sentence" rule is something I've been doing mentally ever since I received my first corporate email account. How do you distill long emails down to quick-response messages? Share your tips in the comments.