Emails! Some days I feel like I drowning in them. They fly in from everywhere - administration, staff, subscriptions, professional learning networks, parents and now even students. Keeping on top of my inbox absorbs more time than I would like some days. A lack of time to get everything done still remains among the top complaints of classroom teachers.
The solution is not to just forget about emails. My organisation runs on email, as do many in this age. It is the primary method of communication on my school campus between admin, support staff and teachers. Ignoring emails can mean you miss last minute changes to timetables or meetings, important messages from parents or school wide alerts.
So in our busy teaching days, how do we swim instead of sinking in our individual ocean of emails?
Introducing the Four D's
The fastest and easiest way to clear out your inbox. If the email doesn't apply to you, doesn't interest you or requires no further action from you, DELETE IT! Leaving them in your inbox is just going to clutter it up.
If you have an email that can be actioned or responded to in a few minutes, then do it! Handling small jobs on the spot and moving on prevents your future self being burdened with a pile of smaller tasks.
In some cases the email may not concern you or may be better handled by someone else. Pass it on. It is often wise to respond to the sender, copy in the person you have delegated the email to, explaining the situation and thus avoiding the sender thinking you have ignored them.
Delegation can also mean filing. We sometimes have emails with useful information we just need to keep. This is when we delegate that email to a folder for future reference. I have a whole library of folders that I use to file away important emails so I can access them as I need them. I have folders in relation to day to day operational things, parent communication, online subscriptions, professional development records, receipts and so on. The types of folders you create will rely on what you need in your individual role.
Deferring seems to be everyone's favourite way to deal with emails. Most of the time we are either making work for our future self that can easily be forgotten or adding emails to increasingly large pile we never get back to.
Deferring emails must be done carefully. If you have an email that will take a little more time to respond to or that requires some thought, you can defer that for your future self to take care of. Do this purposefully by flagging it within your email client which will add it to you to do list.
Manage your subscriptions
I hope your have found this guide helpful. Please share any other strategies you find useful when it comes to dealing with your email inbox.