Academic Technology Center
Teaching with Technology Collaboratory

Managing Your E-mail

September 1, 2005

The growth of electronic communications, especially e-mail, means that many of us spend more time than ever before managing our communications. This may be especially true when it comes to communication with students. You may have students e-mailing you regularly for clarification on class topics, questions about class requirements, or assignment submission. Below are some tips for how you can effectively manage your e-mail.

Managing Outgoing Mail

Keep addresses organized

If the e-mail program you use allows you to set up contact lists, use it. Select e-mail addresses from your contact list rather than typing out the e-mail address.

Create a Class Mailing List

If you will be communicating with a group of people, such as all the students in a class you are teaching, set up a mailing list. You can e-mail everyone on the list simply by sending a message addressed to the list name. Students can also communicate among themselves on the list.

Managing Incoming Mail

Set aside time for e-mail

E-mail may make you feel as though you are accessible 24 hours a day, especially if you find yourself reading and responding to messages throughout the day. Try setting aside specific time periods when you focus only on e-mail. When that time period is up, close your e-mail program so you can focus on other work.

Set response expectations

Let students know your turnaround time for responding to their messages. For example, a response time of 24 hours on weekdays may be reasonable. Make every effort to keep to this timeframe by setting aside time for e-mail each work day. If you will be unavailable for several days, be sure to let students know ahead of time.

Subject Lines

Ask students to put the course number in the subject line so you'll easily recognize their e-mail as being course-related. This will help it stand out from other e-mails you receive and will help you organize your messages.

Organizing Your Mail

"To Do" Folders

Set up a folder for each class you are teaching and file course-related messages you still need to respond to the appropriate folder. This keeps them out of your Inbox and keeps them from getting lost among other messages.

Filing in Folders

File messages you have responded to or that provide you with information you may need later in folders, rather than storing them all in your Inbox. This makes it easier for you to find messages later if you need to refer back to them.

E-mail Etiquette

Etiquette Tips

Make your e-mails appropriate, courteous, and concise. For a good list of etiquette tips, visit

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Last modified: Aug 30, 2005, 13:57 EDT
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