I use Gmail's keyboard shortcuts, K and [. K goes to the next email, [ goes to the next email and archives the one you were looking at. So, I start with the first unread email in my inbox, skim it and hit K or [, depending on whether I need to take action. That gets me to an inbox of only things that need action. As, I just skimmed them, I'll take action on urgent items first. And then, if I have time, address the others. On the my daily ferry ride into the city, I'll clean up the non-urgent tasks. You'll have to enable keyboard shortcuts from the settings.
Gmail also has great auto-categorization. It's got the option to sort your emails into tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions, etc. But, I don't like using those. I don't get those tabs on my phone, so everything there is lumped together. But, I do use the auto-category that is applied to get the tabs to work. I've set up a filter to have any "bulk" email skip my inbox. I then use Gmail's "Multiple Inbox" feature to display all unread bulk emails. This keeps all my bulk email out of my inbox, but gives me a place to read them later, not to mention a great place to "mark all as read".
Note: The last rule keeps invitations out of my bulk folder.