She also suggested keeping your inbox to just 15 or 20 messages at a time. Sorting message into folders and using automatic filters can help prevent the massive shock that can come with seeing hundreds (or thousands) of unread emails at a time.
Patricia Wallace, a director of information technology at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Psychology of the Internet," said a key trick is prioritizing incoming mail.
"You don't want your first-class mail mixed in with a lot of magazines. Make sure your first class mail is the thing you pay attention to," she said.
She said she uses four separate email accounts to make sure important professional correspondence stays away from the news subscriptions, marketing promotions and other messages that pummel her. Others suggest color-coding emails so that you can immediately address the messages that need urgent attention.
Most importantly, Wallace said, make sure you set a good example for the people around you by using email sparingly.
"The cost of email is almost nothing from the sender's point of view, but for the recipient, in terms of time and attention, it's high. Senders don't think about what it costs the recipient," she said. "Because the cost of sending is so cheap... we over-send, we over-inform people."