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Celebrating the inventor of email — and 5 tips for better email management


The man credited with inventing email died Saturday morning. Ray Tomlinson was 74.

Mr. Tomlinson died of a heart attack, Fortune reported.

In addition to inventing the first generation of an email program for Internet predecessor ARPANET in 1971, Mr. Tomlinson also picked the @ symbol for email addresses. Mr. Tomlinson once said in an interview that he invented email “mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

The tech community has responded to Mr. Tomlinson’s death with sadness and commemorating his accomplishments.

“His work changed the way the world communicates and yet, for all his accomplishments, he remained humble, kind and generous with his time and talents,” said Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble, according to The Guardian.

Since email emerged as a primary mode of communication — both in people’s personal and professional lives — the tool has been regarded as both a blessing and a curse. The former because of its ability to expedite the transfer of important information in writing, the latter because of the sheer volume of emails people receive and must respond to.

In 2015, more than 205 billion emails were sent each day, and the average worker checks email 74 times daily, according to the Harvard Business Review. Email is a major cause of stress among working people, with 92 percent of employees showing elevated blood pressure and heart rate when using email at work. Even when they attempt to ignore the waves of emails flooding their inboxes, many people feel guilt and anxiety about the tool. 

There is a substantial amount of literature proposing best practices for using email at work. Here are five tips for managing email effectively.

1. Check and respond to emails first thing in the morning.

2. Respond in a timely manner.

3. Use email-sorting programs. 

4. Designate certain times of day for email.

5. Disconnect when you can.

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