Email productivity

Delete key
Delete me, I dare you...

I thought this might prove useful to some teachers.

Here are some tips you might like to help you manage email fast and forever (and yes, they do include the delete key). (very brief justification of five sentence rule, also leads to the more efficient two sentence rule – how low can you go?)

or (video is one hour lecture – watch if interested. It’s a good lecture.) Good quick advice in this post:

# Delete or Archive

# Delegate

# Respond

# Defer

# Do

Other Tips:

1. Good email signature (not so relevant for internal mail in a school, except for your phone extension)

2. Edit the subject line of your email reply to give the response e.g.<— Yes (or no?)

3. Don’t be afraid to be brief: aim to further or complete the conversation (you are not being rude, just efficient)

4. Use decent grammar and capitals but don’t create literature. Any more than two/three minutes and you should be creating a document or blog post for future reference, or using the phone or going to see them.

The delete key is not always the answer. But your time is precious so respect it by not writing long emails, and so will I.

Reply in comments if you have any other ideas.

Image CC:

With assistance from Doug and James

Email productivity

8 thoughts on “Email productivity

  1. Another couple of things I do that work quite well.

    1. Using a subject that makes sense and informs.

    2. Indicate clearly in the e-mail what you expect the person to do.


    For INFO

    For RESPONSE by 5th JUNE

    For ACTION by 7th August

    Please FORWARD to relevant staff



  2. Let your email be pull, not push.

    Example of pull – you go to visit your hotmail account on the web. Log in to twitter to pull down tweets, etc.

    Example of push – you have messages pop up every few minutes. (SMS is another good example of push, as are blackberries).

    Set yourself a few times of the day when you access your email. Don’t touch it for the rest of the day.

    If it’s urgent – use a phone, or better yet, go to see them 🙂

    Granted, such things aren’t always possible, but it is worth trying.

  3. 1. If your email client (e.g. GMail, Outlook) has a search feature, use it.

    2. To make #1 more powerful, if someone emails you but doesn’t include much detail, copy the email into a new one, then send it to yourself with additional information, keywords, etc. (tip from @Stammy)

  4. Depending on what you do email is your paper trail. Use it but don’t abuse it.

    It may be that you have a telephone conversation or corridor chat that needs you to send a quick email to state what you discussed, what you decided and who has to do the work.

    When responding to emails be consistent between posting your message at the top / bottom of a reply or interspersing your response in the original message. If you are interspersing comments clearly mention this at the top of your reply.

    The subject line is for the subject. If there is nothing in the body of the emails some filters will drop it as junk / spam.

    You don’t have to respond to an email the moment it comes in. You may have to acknowledge it, or it might be important and you have to make a decision about something, but be prepared for that decision to be “I’ll deal with it later”.

    Treat your email like your mobile phone. You wouldn’t answer it in a meeting unless it was important, so treat your email the same.

    Remember that just because you are sat in front of your computer it does not mean your recipient is. Be patient if you are waiting for a reply.

  5. @rooreynolds once quoted someone who said that checking your email every few minutes is like boiling rice a grain at a time! Checking email can be addictive, but it is easy to get into a habit of only checking at set times of the day. Committing this in an email signature (“Please note that I check email three times a day” is brave, but also tells recipients not to expect an instant response.

  6. Chris Gasiorek says:

    You have no idea how much I have to thank you for putting me in the direction of ‘inbox zero’ several months ago. For the 1st time in years, I feel I am controlling email rather than email controlling me!

  7. Chris Eastwood says:

    Despite the opportunities and suggestions you provide, there is something to be said for concentrating on face-to-face relationships between staff instead of the constant barrage of staff-to-staff e-mails, many of which are irrelevant to the majority of staff.
    Many e-mails are devalued by the fact that there are so many of them, each day!

  8. Interesting comments and advice. Thank you to all those who replied. Doug sent another tip on twitter – ‘Another email tip: bullet point questions/calls to action at the end of your email. Pretty much guarantees focused response! :-)’

    Teachers (and many others) are still learning how best to use email. Productivity is a skill and develops over time and with practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *