Photo: John Gribben/Getty Images

5 of 7
The 30-Sec Change: Create a Send Filter
Our days are defined by the insistent pinging of new emails arriving. But Georgetown University assistant professor Cal Newport may have a solution for this in his book Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In a Distracted World. Step one is to not reply. This feels rude, but if you're getting emails from too many people, asking you to do too many things and answer only the ones you want, or need, to tackle, the other senders may not even notice that you didn't reply because...you guessed it...they are also sending and receiving too many emails. Step two is to set up a send filter, which is a statement on your blog, social-media account or website that politely states that you can't respond to all emails. Take Newport's filter: "I'll only respond to those proposals that are a good match for my schedule and interests." If you don't have such a public presence on the web and are just overwhelmed by your personal email, you can establish a send filter by creating an automatic response with a message such as: "Thank you for emailing! Unfortunately, I can only respond to commitments I can say yes to—and it may take a few days."

"I was worried, when I first began using a send filter, that it would seem pretentious—if my time was more valuable...and that it would upset people," writes Tracy. "But most people easily accept the idea that you have a right to control your own incoming communication, as they would like to enjoy this same right. More important, they like the clarity. Most are okay to not receive a response if they don't expect one."