Today I tweeted that my next workshop at a conference near you would be on ‘Email Management Tips and Ideas.’ I only tweeted it out for a ‘laugh,’ but then I thought about it. It would probably be a really useful workshop! I mean, everybody uses emails, usually multiple accounts. Everybody receives them and everybody sends them. When I say everybody I mean, every teacher, at least! McKinsey Global Institute released research a few years ago stating that more than a quarter of workers days are used up, reading and responding to emails. This is more often than not a disproportionate amount of our time.
This scenario is definitely familiar to you;
Monday morning, walking into your classroom/office/department office and you turn on your computer. You’re not really dreading the day ahead of you, you are dreading your emails…
- What job have I been given
- What did I do wrong
- What meeting have I missed or do I need to attend
- Why did I not respond to this and so on!
So, then, what is email management? And how can we do it?
Well, I’m not referring to this:
Essentially what I am talking about is how as busy, extremely busy and tired teachers can we keep up with the many emails we receive, daily! (If only we had email response management agents to do this for us!)
Here are my tips, as always, Try & Refine! In NO particular order.
- Don’t check your email first thing. Dedicate the first part of the day to your most important task. You might think thats your email. But is it…? However, you might like starting your day with a clean sweep and emptying your thought drawers! (I do!)
- Avoid checking your emails whenever you get a ‘minute.’ Although it can reduce the apparent number of emails you receive, it can drastically affect what you’re doing and therefore your productivity.
- Turn your emails off, when you are teaching. You can’t respond and it will distract you.
- Do not have your emails on your personal mobile, if you do, then know how to turn them off. Ensure you require a password to get them back on, otherwise it is just too easy to switch them on and off!
- Reserve/schedule yourself time in the day and evening if you wish to only check and respond to emails. Nothing else! Think about how much time you give to this…
- Ensure your colleagues know your ‘checking emails’ routine. For example if you state nice and clearly that you do not check or respond to emails on a Friday evening and Saturday then, your colleagues should not expect a response
- Do not approach colleagues and say, ‘Did you get my email!?’
- Turn off notifications. What is the point, if you are only going to check them at your time you have assigned!
- Scan through your email and delete all items that do not need responses. Do not leave them there, as it will build a perception of a full inbox.
- Reply to all emails instantly that require less than two minutes to reply. Clear those first.
- Organise folders. I keep URGENT and IMPORTANT at the top, then URGENT not IMPORTANT and then I keep folders for various responsibilities.
- Best folder to keep- Password/Log In/Links!
- I also have a Useful Documents Folder.
- When you have folders, use them, keep your inbox, at Inbox Zero as much as possible. Action immediate items, move others, then write on your to do list about any email that needs more than 5 minutes for a response.
- Use the touch it once principle religiously. Don’t read and think thats only a short one, I will reply later. As that means you will read that email twice and take more time than is needed.
- Use email rules to group emails together.
- Ensure your work email isn’t flooded with subscriber emails or adds, keep them on your personal account! Or unsubscribe.
- Use email signatures– save yourself time and energy!
- Set up Send Templates! Save the headache of Dear, Hello, Kind Regards etc…
- Use your out of office assistant– if you work part time, make it clear, when the people emailing you will get a response!
- Use EOM– and just type a short message in the subject line- EOM stands for End of Message.
- I am not an advocate for cutting off emails at a certain time in any organisation, however, a useful signature such as, ‘I am sending this email at this time, as it suits me, I do not however, expect a response until it suits you.’
- If you want to receive less emails, send less emails!
- DON’T REPLY ALL!
Ultimately the best way to manage your emails is to communicate about your emails. Let your team know, work out expectations together. I personally like actioning off work by sending an email. It is a virtual way of addressing my to do list. However, if an email requires more than 3 paragraphs, it should probably be a phone call, visit or a meeting. Instil these habits in your teams.