Career Question Dropbox: Email Overload


Hooray! It’s time to answer our first-ever question from the ISU Alumni Association’s new Career Question Dropbox. To get YOUR career question answered, simply submit it online.


THE QUESTION: What is the best way to manage an overload of emails?

While there are certainly a variety of methods for managing your inbox, one of the most popular approaches has been coined ‘Inbox Zero.’ Even within this approach there are different recommendations on actually achieving Inbox Zero. Michael McWatters, Director of Experience Design at TED, prefers “a manual approach: read, reply, take action, archive, unsubscribe.” Other experts swear by a set of specific tips.

A few of the most common ones are:

1. Schedule time specifically for responding to emails. Maybe it’s a half hour, maybe it’s an hour. Perhaps you need to schedule time in the morning and again after lunch. Determine the amount of time you need and when it works best in your schedule, then add it to your calendar!

2. React right away. If the email requires action and you can complete that action right now, do it! Chances are you’ll spend more time flagging that email for later or moving it to a ‘to-do’ folder than you would simply completing the task.

3. Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, Do. Delete spam, junk mail, anything you don’t need to do anything else with. If someone else should take action on the item, delegate it by forwarding it on to them. Respond right away if you can. And if you’re waiting on a reply or more information before you can respond, defer the message – but make sure you know when you’ll readdress it. As for Do, see tip #2!

Additional Resources:
4 Tips to Better Manage Your Email Inbox (By: Jacqueline Whitmore)
Improve Your Productivity With Inbox Zero (By: Aytekin Tank)


Until next time…keep those inboxes spick and span! And keep sending your questions to the ISUAA Career Question Dropbox!


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