I really enjoyed this guide to not wasting time on email. It’s funny, accurate, and it acknowledges the worst part of email – that people will just send you a little note and expect you to do stuff for them.
I particularly enjoyed this bit on how to respond:
People are terrible at clearly outlining what they want from you. They waffle, and then when they do get to the point, they’re vague. This wastes your time - but you can turn it to your advantage. Almost any email that requires you to do something will have made assumptions of some kind; you should immediately ask for clarification on at least one of those assumptions. This has several wonderful effects:
It gets the email out of your inbox. You replied, so archive it. Boom.
You give work to someone else who just tried to give you work. Vengeance.
You show yourself to be detail-oriented and precise. And, someone who’s vengeful and not afraid to hurt other people. All of those are excellent and useful additions to your reputation.