Keeping up with email is no small task, especially when you’re on the go. Even taking a day off can result in hundreds of unread emails. Couple this with the unwritten five-minute rule—the unwritten rule that an email must be answered within five minutes of receiving it—and things can get overwhelming quickly. That’s why it’s imperative to have a system to manage your inbox that ensures precious leads don’t slip through cracks. Here are a couple of suggestions that will help you reclaim your life:

1. Create an email management system. Treat your inbox as a to-do list. Those emails in your inbox can act as items that need action. Once the email has been addressed, it can be moved to its appropriate folder.

2. Set up rules to automatically send certain emails to pre-destined folders. This will allow you to immediately organize emails into folders and allow you to see which items need attention.

3. Hire an assistant. Though this is the most expensive option, this will allow you to have your emails answered even while you are unavailable.

4. Virtual assistant service. This is a combination of hiring an assistant and setting up automated email rules. Check out Tristan Assist; it employs the deduction and communication skills of real people. To explore this further, visit http://tristanassist.com. (Tristan Assist is not a REAL Trends sponsor; we just like the service!)

Regardless of your chosen mode of implementation, it’s possible to have a life outside of work and return with less than 100 emails in your inbox. Put into action an email plan that works for you and set that vacation responder, it’s time to reclaim your inbox!