If you have trouble prioritising the tsunami of email in your inbox, Microsoft's Scott Hanselman has a trick that can help. Divide your inbox up into three simple categories: Inbox, CC and External.
Belle Beth Cooper explains what this looks like:
Scott uses filters to send incoming emails into three different inboxes: one for external emails (anyone outside his company), another for any emails he's CC'd on, and a last one for all internal company emails sent directly to Scott.
- Inbox - CC
- Inbox - External
This is a really good way to manage the time and energy you put into processing emails, because you can prioritise external emails if you want to (as Scott does) without wasting time looking for them in your inbox -- or getting distracted by internal emails instead.
You can do this any way you want -- using folders, Gmail's Multiple Inboxes feature or this (unsupported and possibly account-breaking) hack. I've been doing it for a while, and it's much easier to know what to prioritise when you can see who the email is coming from at a glance.