Handle Your Email by Meggin McIntosh, PhD
Goodness, gracious–email can cause a great deal of stress and it can also be a fabulous productivity tool. I hear this in my workshops and in conversations and I live with the push/pull of it myself. Let’s have a few ideas this week and for the next couple of weeks related to email and how to be more productive as a faculty members when dealing with email.
Note: Although text and IM have added a twist of stress of electronic mail, email continues to be part of everyone’s lives. Consider these ideas carefully and apply what you need and extrapolate the ideas to other aspects of your electronic communications.
- Open your email a specified number of times each day (vs. having it on constantly). Even if you open it once an hour, that’s an improvement over having it on 100% of the time.
- Only open your email if you have time to process/deal with the email that is there. If you need to open it quickly JUST to check and see if an important email you have been waiting for has come in, that’s acceptable. Just don’t see down and open it and sort of meander around in there. That’s a waste of valuable time.
- Set up and use all the “rules” you possibly can to sift & sort your email. If you don’t know how to do this with your program (Outlook, Groupwise, or some other), then ask someone who does. Each little tip you can use makes a difference.
- Use a clear, pertinent, succinct subject line (and this may be the whole message). For example: “Meeting Tuesday afternoon is canceled.” If this is indeed the entire message, then put EOM which means End of Message to let the readers know they don’t even have to open the email.
- Use and teach others to use NNTR (No Need to Respond) or NRN (No Response Necessary).
- Stop email ping-pong (also known as “boomerang email”). Back and forth, back and forth. Just pick up the phone.
- Have a “throwaway” email address (from hotmail or yahoo, for example). You can use it when you have to sign in to various websites, etc., but you never give it out to anyone who is sending you email that you care about. Then, if that address starts being bombarded with junk, you can just turn it off and create a new “throwaway” email address.
- Keep updated virus software. Having your computer shut down due to a virus causes untold chaos and headache for you and those around you.
- Ask people not to send you unnecessary “stuff”-cartoons, jokes, chain letters, etc. Be kind but firm in your request. If they persist, block their email address.
- Clear out your email inbox daily. (WHEW! I know this one makes most people fall out of their chairs when I say this in a workshop. We will come back to this one later in the series, but for now, I just wanted to put it out there for you).
Just start with #1–if you do that one and don’t try any of the others, it will be helpful. Believe me.
My belief is that we all have more control than we think we do…at least over those items that I’ve listed above. Be thankful for the control you have and use it in a productive manner.
If you like these tips and would like more to help your writing goals you will want the Get a Plan! Guide® to Seven Sane & Sensible Email Practices part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series designed to give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion