I often think of my email inbox as a tennis game.
Each email that comes in is like a tennis ball, which needs to be volleyed back to my rally partner.
The temptation is to simply swing the racket and volley the ball back as quickly as possible. But life is not tennis, and volleying quickly is likely to lead to a long, time-consuming rally.
Instead, take the time to respond specifically, to make it easier for you or your correspondents to hit a winner.
For example, instead of asking, "Do you have time to meet next week?", short-circuit the conversation by offering specific times (or by using Tungle). Use if-then statements to cover contingencies, and make it clear exactly what you want from people.
Soft volleys may clear your inbox temporarily, but the return volleys will soon bury you once again. Take the time to laser in a few winners.