Bill Gates: 'I only get 40 or 50 emails a day'

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By Vidya Rao and Meena Hart Duerson

Bill Gates may have predicted the popularity of email two decades ago, but these days he says his inbox isn't as flooded as you might expect.

The tech icon revealed Wednesday that he only gets a few dozen emails per day, and shared his secrets for staying on top of everything that comes in.

"I only get maybe 40 or 50 emails a day, it's not that much," he told "Some of them have huge attachments where people expect you to read a 10-page memo and make comments, and some are just simple acknowledgements of something. So you process some, and get back to others at night. You make sure if you put something off you get back to it later."

While it doesn't sound like Gates practices a strict "Inbox Zero" approach, his habit of handling every message he receives helps him stay connected to the many projects he's juggling.

"It's always tricky, but email's the way I stay in touch with things," he said. "You always wonder what might come up, what new problem...I first find out about problems often with a piece of email."

It's no surprise Gates is on top of his inbox, given that he's had twenty years to get comfortable with the idea of email. Back in the 1990s, he foretold the future in an interview with TODAY.

"One of the big things over the next couple years will be getting the computer on enough desktops that we'll actually communicate using what's called electronic mail," he told Tom Brokaw. "And it's surprising to me that it's not happening a little faster."

So what does he think we can expect to see in the future?

"If we go out 20 years we'll be able to talk to the computer," he predicted on the show Wednesday. "It'll be kind of pervasive, your walls, your whiteboard. It'll see what you're doing, you'll be able to write on it."

Are you as on top of your email as Bill Gates? Have you attained "Inbox Zero" or are your messages a mess? Let us know your email style in the comments!

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