Beki Grinter

Email: How do you manage it?

In academia, academic management, social media on October 26, 2010 at 9:16 am

I was just recently asked how I dealt with my email. That’s a great question. Here’s what I do in no particular order, what do you do?

* I take reassurance knowing that others clearly can’t cope with their email. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, rather I mean it to be about setting my expectations for coping realistically. I have a colleague who described being an academic as a permanent state of graceful failure.  So, don’t beat yourself up on top of everything else.

* When I think its going to distract me, I quit my mail application. This prevents me from using the fact that new mail has arrived to cease whatever it is I am supposed to be doing. I do worry that this violates the implicit expectations that email will be dealt with fairly quickly.

* When reading email I try to decide whether a task can be completed more quickly than it would take me to either ignore the email and re-read it later or to craft a diplomatic response. Sometimes this has actually led me to agree to do something when I might otherwise have said no, because the time spent crafting the gracious “no” message is longer than actually doing what is asked.

* I have gotten better about asking myself whether it is my responsibility, and if so what should I do. I am better about asking others to help me if I think they can. I have gotten better about deciding that someone else is responsible for the email and another will be generated when I am more immediately required. Sometimes I respond with a question about responsibilities, in order to get clarification on whether what I am reading is a to-do or informational.

* Using my website to communicate some of my email policies. I now routinely delete all email that comes to me addressed as “Dear Sir.” I am glad that I have clear policies about recommendation letters. The hardest thing in my experience has been to enforce them, but through enforcement comes consistency.

I have thought about

* Using my email sig file to communicate a different set of expectations about when I deal with email. Mainly because I think we may have gotten to a point where a more immediate response is expected.

I aspire to

* Not sweating my email policy

What do you do? Lets share some tips!

  1. I empty my mailbox every day

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Guy Dewsbury, Beki Grinter. Beki Grinter said: how do you cope with your email […]

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