Slim Down Your Inbox With an E-Mail Diet

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval run a thriving advertising agency that depends on lots of quick thinking and rapid communication, especially over e-mail.

"We're in a creative business," Koval said. "So using e-mails for facts, things you need a record of, that's great. It's changed our business."

What wasn't so great was the number of e-mails flooding their inboxes. They said sometimes the count reached into the hundreds.

"We have a policy," Thaler said. "[We try] to answer every e-mail, and so that can take up most of your day and your evening. And very often, Robin and I are e-mailing each other at midnight, and that's not right."

Their situation may not be unique. Americans processed 6 trillion business e-mails in 2006, according to Ferris Research.

So to give everyone's weary typing fingers a rest, Koval and Thaler came up with an innovative solution called the "e-mail diet day."

Every few months, the company chooses a day when people can't e-mail each other at the office. Instead, employees are encouraged to visit their colleagues in person or at least pick up the phone.

The company takes the initiative so seriously, it even has invented a mini in-office campaign with a jingle.

"Everyone should go on an e-mail diet. Throw away your mouse. Go ahead and try it" are the song's lyrics.

Some employees said they found the idea useful.

"On e-mail diet day, it was great because I really did make a conscious effort," one said.

"It's very refreshing to have that face-to-face conversation," another added.

But at least one employee admitted that like any diet, this one is difficult to stick to at times.