In the first in our series, we looked at Curating Bookmarks. In the next installment, the focus was on Google Drive. This week we look at curation of email and how we can unclutter our digital inboxes and stay on top of our email.

Like it or hate it, email is a daily chore for anyone in education.

Gone are the days when we would enjoy the occasional email from fellow educators and enjoyed a SPAM-free existence.

SPAM accounts for almost 50% of email worldwide. That’s right almost half the email sent in the world is SPAM. We block this before it arrives in your email so you never see most of it.

So why is it called SPAM? In the early days of the internet messages that were sent over and over with the same message were considered as annoying as the SPAM song from Monty Python fame. SPAM.SPAM.SPAM…

Your inbox is where all your messages arrive (unless you filter them, more about that later). Now the size of your inbox will vary but for many people, it is a never-ending list of unread or unwanted messages with thousands of messages on multiple pages. Curating your email is a never-ending task that we can streamline with use of some of the built-in features of Gmail and something I call the ART of Gmail.

A = Archive

Archiving messages put simply is taking a message and removing it from the inbox but not deleting it from the server. You can delete a message but Google gives us unlimited storage so archiving makes sense as it involves fewer steps. The archive button is denoted by a folder with an arrow pointing down.

The easiest way to find it is to hover over your messages in the new Gmail and three buttons appear (Archive, Delete and Mark as Unread). You will also find it at the top of the message list when you select a message. So what happens when you archive? When new messages arrive they are labeled “Inbox” and show up in your inbox. Archiving removes the inbox label and they remain in the All Mail folder unless deleted.

R = Respond

Once we have removed unwanted or needed messages (Archive) we can turn our attention to the messages in our inbox. If they require a response that can be done straight away then write the response and then archive the message. It seems simple but postponing a response increases the chance you will forget and your list will begin to grow again.

T = To Do

The third and final option is to defer the task and prioritize it in a ToDo list. Most people leave out this step and use their inbox as a big ToDo list! You can make it work but many times messages are buried and we fail to act on them. Here is where the new Gmail comes into its own. You can bring up the ToDo list by clicking on the Google Tasks icon on the right margin and opening your to-do list.

Now just drag a message from the message list to the todo window and it will create a to-do item linked to that message.

Once you have done this, you can archive the message and once you have completed the task you can mark it as done.

If you archive all your messages then eventually you will have zero messages in your inbox. This state of being is known as Inbox Zero. Throw a party! Enjoy the moment because… It won’t last. Return to the beginning. Archive – Respond – ToDo rinse and repeat… Once you get good at it you will get to Zero Inbox regularly.

Next time we will look at how to organize those messages to make them easier to find. Gmail has some built-in features that make it the best email client for educators.

John Mansel-Pleydell on Email
John Mansel-Pleydell
Instructional Services Supervisor @ Northern Buckeye
Google Certified Trainer