i have a policy of no email gets left behind. it's quite simple - if you give me the courtesy and respect of thinking, drafting, and sending an email, the least i think i can do is to return the courtesy and respect. common decency in my mind.
obviously then i've got a ton of emails to read and respond to. so the below is an process created through 3 years in a corporate job, 2 years in business school, and 3 years as an entrepreneur. so yeah, it should be pretty robust across industries.
1) scan subject line for clues about content and direction
2) open the email
3) see my positioning as a BCC, CC, or direct addressee to gain clues on importance
4) scan email content and drive for one or two action items
5) sometimes the action item is one that will take some analysis and time. in that case i usually file that action item in Wunderlist or Boomerang it to myself at a later time.
Love to hear what email processes you use via Twitter