Digg founder Kevin Rose needed to process nearly 2000 emails, along with a system that didn't let important stuff fall away in the future. His solution? An auto-responding filter that gives actually urgent mail a second chance to catch him.
Four of Rose's five tactics are somewhat familiar email management techniques to those with a love-hate-hate inbox relationship: using signature tools like threesentenc.es and a fake "Sent from my iPhone" to earn acceptance for your succinct replies, setting up a "VIP" filter for actual boss and coworker coordination, and using name+something email addresses when signing up for a service that might likely bomb you with spam.
Rose's fifth trick, a filter that auto-responds when messages go ignored, but then catches itself when the sender replies once again, is pretty clever:
(Apple Mail or similar program) Setup an email bankruptcy filter. This is a little bit of a dick move, but if you're getting hundreds of new emails a day, it just might work.
Step 1: Create a filter that auto-responds to all unopened emails > 14 days old w/the following message:
Your email (below) is now 14 days old and has not been opened. To minimise email buildup your email has now been placed in the archive. Should you still require a response simply respond back and you'll automatically be added to the priority queue. Thank you.
Step 2: Setup another filter that looks for the text "Your email (below)", this will catch the email responses back to you from those still requiring your response. Filter these into a special folder you check and respond to daily.
It's a more advanced version of "If it's important, they'll send it again", and one that gives off less of a "I'm way more important than you" vibe.