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Helpful Tips on Reducing Email Overload at Your School

By Bobby Fagogenis
Helpful Tips on Reducing Email Overload at Your School

“Email Overload,” an illustration by George Gostovich, elementary school art teacher at Chadwick International.
In most international schools today, one-to-one laptop and iPads, as well as Google email for teachers seems to be the standard in technology use. It is this reality that has also brought about the issue of over-communication through email. At times it can seem like a herculean task to address the sea of messages one can find in an inbox on any given day.
The tips below are broken into two categories to help address the issue of email overload in schools and to help teachers.
What I can do personally to help reduce the “sea” of emails at my school?
Tip #1 - Reduce the “thank-you” emails and instead take the opportunity to follow up face-to-face to show gratitude. This can not always be done, however make a conscious effort to apply when possible.
Tip #2 - Encourage your school to setup “opt-in” email groups that focus on personal themed emails. Items for sale, unofficial staff gatherings, lost items, are just some examples of personal emails that can become overwhelming over the course of a day.
Tip # 3 - Try to keep most emails between three to five sentences. More then five sentences will probably be skimmed and in some cases, not read. Under three may not be necessary, or may be considered rude.
Tip #4 - Lead by example! The fewer emails you send, the fewer are contributed to the sea of emails that others need to navigate. Is an email “absolutely necessary?” and “is there a better way of getting the word out?” are two questions that you should be constantly asking yourself.
What I can do to better navigate the “sea” of emails at my school?
Tip #1 - Make your subject line detailed. By doing this you and your recipients will be able to prioritize and filter more effectively. Specifically, by adding markers to the end of subject line such as (FYI), (Time Sensitive), (Action Requested), and (Urgent), we give each other a better chance of prioritizing and hence, save time.
Tip #2 - Get familiar with the “canned response” option in your gmail account. This can be used to address a variety of repetitive emails that are sent from various community members. By creating email templates, teachers can quickly frame email responses that need minor changes to address issues. Questions coming from students regarding due dates and special events emails are just two examples of how this option could be implemented.
Tip #3 - Creating folders in your email account and then utilizing the filter option that is found in your Gmail account will save you significant time. This automatically helps you archive emails and address only the most important ones.
By implementing the simple tips above, educators and schools will see a significant increase in productivity and will reduce the “email overload” that is often seen these days.
Bobby Fagogenis is the Assistant Principal of the Village School at Chadwick International and is still fighting the good fight against email overload. He can be found on twitter @bobbyfagogenis.

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