E-mail management

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After two short on-line surveys on communication for the upcoming Lifelong E-Learning course it seems that for the majority of people e-mail is still the most important communication tool. At the same time I hear a lot of colleagues complaining about e-mail overload. For that reason, the L&T blog has assembled this list of eight email management tips to help you reduce inbox congestion and frustration:

– spend less time and get more done; instead of visiting every message two or three times, turn off automatic mail checking and turn to email when it suits you best. Don’t answer your email at your most productive time of day.
– write short messages in the Subject Only
– learn really how to use your email program.
– keep your inbox manageable (delete)
– maximize the use of folders (archive) In order to keep things organized, it’s critical to set up folders to archive your messages. Choose the right variables that reflect the daily base on which you operate.
– respond immediately or generate an action from it
– keep e-mails short
– Set a Reminder/ Add to Calendar. If the email requires action at a later date, set a reminder – or if the action has to occur at a specific time of the day, add the event to your calendar

The critical point, as ever, is to focus on action and not on the administration and housekeeping.


Not only upgrade your own email-management skills but most important of all : “Respect other people’s inboxes !“:
– Don’t CC people unnecessarily.
– Don’t reply to all if the reply is only relevant to one or two of the people on the email.
– Unless confirmation of receipt is needed, try to avoid sending gratuitous “Thanks” replies.
– Make it easy for recipients to act on your emails by using subject lines that are descriptive and specific. Consider beginning your subject lines with words like “FYI:,” “Reminder:”, “Urgent:” and “Action Needed:” to help recipients quickly understand if action is needed and if so, how quickly.
– If you know that a co-worker is out of town, don’t send them email. Instead, save those emails as drafts and set a reminder to send them once the person returns.

Do you have any other tips?

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I really like the ‘inbox zero’ method presented in this talk:

It helped me clean up my inbox-mess 🙂

Chris Bonney

A way to really get your inbox in a good place is to follow the 3 email account rule. Details are here: http://bit.ly/YNl5

Tom Wambeke
Tom Wambeke

The Harvard Business Review just added four additional tips who can be really well linked to this blog post. I re-post them here> 1. Ask for something. All business writing includes a call to action. Before you write your email, know what you’re asking of your audience. 2. Say it up front. Don’t bury the purpose of your email in the last paragraph. Include important information in the subject line and opening sentence. 3. Explain. Don’t assume your reader knows anything. Provide all pertinent background information and avoid elusive references. 4. Tell them what you think. Don’t use the dreaded… Read more »

Tom Wambeke
Tom Wambeke

Practice “OHIO” — Only Handle It Once. Immediately decide what to do with each email, and answer important ones quickly instead of filing them away. Because once you’re finally ready to tackle them, you’ll spend half an hour just searching through folders.


Other tips from the Harvard Business Review: Stop the E-mail Overload