This was the number facing me as I opened my email this morning: 549.
549 apparently unread emails.
This was depressing. What a way to start the year! Already significantly behind!
However I knew – in part at least – why the number had crept up to such heights. What I didn’t know was how to start checking these mails and ensure that I had responded to or acknowledged them.
So I started by making archive subfolders within my O365 inbox using <session start year> – <term number> as a prefix. For example:
- 2020-1 Archive
- 2020-2 Archive
Once I’d moved the mails into their appropriate term the figure looked not only much more manageable but highlighted the period where I’d let my housekeeping slip: January to April 2020.
The majority of unread emails in this period related to:
- Room booking alerts
- Google Classroom submissions
- Sales pitches
I checked the shortcuts available in O365 Outlook. Q marks an email as read. I used this to quickly filter through the term’s unread mails.
It took me a little time to action these changes today but I believe that this grouping of email by term has positive mental health benefits. Anna Beech writes in Stylist about “email fatigue”. Having fewer channels helps, so I’m glad I forwarded notifications from my Glow mail into my work inbox.
Takeaways from this activity:
- Archiving previous term emails into an appropriate folder allows quick identification of mails you missed in those few months, making the process of catch up more manageable.
- The Q shortcut key speeds up the catch up process. I’ll use this in the next term as acknowledgement emails appear and see if this impacts on perceived overload.
- Fewer applications or platforms is key in reducing stress. Work communication should be in one place.
- Can filtering of Google Classroom notifications using rules can reduce unread emails further?
- How can this process have a positive impact on student organisation skills?
- Can O365 Outlook display the number of flagged mails in a similar way to unread mails?
- How can the Microsoft To-Do app help with prioritising of actions through flagging emails?