I have found Inbox Zero effective at dealing with the psychological barriers around checking and responding to email. I've adapted the process so that for every email (starting with the oldest) I choose one of the following actions:
Label & Archive - This is the most common action since most of my email is purely information. By using filters, most the email is pre-labeled and I usually just archive it (or delete it if it's an unsolicited advertisement).
Star It - I choose this for emails that require me either do something or that indicate that I'm waiting for something to happen (e.g., receipts for an order).
Respond - Usually to acknowledge receipt of an email, or provide someone with a particular piece of information. This must take less than two minutes.
After all the emails have been processed, I view all the starred emails. I add all the items I need to do to my task list. (I will discuss how I process the task list in a future post.)
In the past two years, I have maintained an empty inbox at home and at work and have found that I spend more time doing what needs to be done rather then trying to keep it all in my head.