Students and educators are returning back to school and it is time to continue our series on email management for teachers and administrators! Let's recap our previous steps which, hopefully, you are using:
- Write a great subject line
- Turn off automatic notifications
- Set aside specific times for email
- Only write one topic per email
- Create 4 folders: Backlog, To-Do, Hold, and Archive
- Add a meaningful automatic signature
- Flag your email when you need to follow up
If you haven't started yet, that's no problem. Just go back in this blog to Day 1 and begin! :) Take them one day at a time and before you know it, you'll be at your 30-day email management goal!
Our next step in the series is one that really gets to the root of the email management goal:
Apply the 4 D's to your Email
It's really pretty easy once you get going and you get a great routine established that makes weeding through those emails very easy. It works like this:
Begin at the top of your email list and for each one, apply one of the 4 D's to it.
For each email, make a decision to do one of the following items.
- Do it by taking care of the request, replying to it, or whatever is needed. The rule, remember, is if it can be done in 2 minutes or less, just do it and get it out of the way. Then, move the email to your Archive folder.
- Delete it if is of no use, junk mail, will never be needed, etc. This goes to the Trash to be forgotten.
- Delegate it to someone to complete, follow-up, reply, or whatever is necessary. You may need to Forward this and then put it in either Archive or Hold (if you need to check that it is complete).
- Defer it to your Tasks or To-Do list. This means you need to flag it, put it on your calendar, or do something so you know that it still needs to be done but it may take more than 2 minutes so it will be set aside.
It is so tempting to begin one of the "to-do" tasks in the middle of your email routine but fight the urge and stick with the process until your inbox has been cleared and your items are either placed in Archive, Hold, To-Do's, or Trash.
Remember, once you have weeded through it during your designated email time, then don't go back through it until your next planned time to deal with email. Instead, move on to some of the tasks or other items you have to work on in your normal day. Those emails will be there the next time your designated email time arrives!
By the way, don't forget to apply this to your Backlog folder. Do you remember this folder? This is the one that we set up previously to hold the inbox items that had built up until we had time to weed through them. Now, go back to that folder and apply the 4 D's to those items! When your backlog folder is empty, delete it! You'll never need it again for this system!
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