Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion

Let’s Free Our Schools From Inbox Overload

By Patrick Larkin — August 08, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

One of my least favorite things, in both my professional life and my personal life, is deal with Emails. Therefore, I am open to anything that will help me avoid spending more than a small amount of time each day writing and/or responding to Email. Because of my propensity to avoid Email, I always have my antenna up for tips and tricks that will help me in this area. With this in mind, I was thrilled to come across the Email Charter this week, a document which gives some concrete solutions to help all of us deal with this unnecessary intrusion.

The Email Charter clearly states both the problem and the solution as follows:

The Problem

The relentless growth of in-box overload is being driven by a surprising fact: The average time taken to respond to an Email is greater, in aggregate, than the time it took to create.

The Solution

...Email overload is something we are inadvertently doing to each other. You can't solve this problem acting alone. You will end up simply ignoring, delaying, or rushing responses to many incoming messages, and risk annoying people or missing something great. That prospect is stressful...But if we can mutually change the ground rules, maybe we can make that stress go away."

The Email Charter, which emanated from a blog post by TED curator Chris Anderson four years ago, was something that was crowd-sourced and revised into a list of 10 things (shown in the graphic below from emailcharter.org) that we can all do to “reverse this spiral.”

In looking at the list, I have three quick takeaways for school leaders as we head into a new school year and try to support the people within our organization by freeing them up from in-box overload.


  1. Deliver your message verbally whenever possible - If you are in a small school or district deliver individual messages in person instead of adding another e-mail to someone’s inbox. This also gets you out of the office and allows you to be more visible and potentially interact with even more colleagues. In addition, if the message is something that deals with an emotional or hot-button topic then it is better to have a conversation and not leave open the possibility that the tone of an e-mail will be misread.

  2. Open-ended emails should be retired - If you are looking for group input on a decision, an agenda, or a document then put out a collaborative document for people to work on together (i.e. a Google doc). It will save everyone time and show more transparency in the process.

  3. Take the angry e-mail out of your repertoire - What is gained by a scathing e-mail? Do you really feel better after ? How long until you start thinking that you should find a way to unsend that nastygram? Remember, you don’t have to unsend 100-percent of the angry Emails that you never send.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Reinventing K-12 Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Can College-Going Be Less Risky Without Being 'Free'?
Rick Hess speaks with Peter Samuelson, president of Ardeo Education Solutions, about Ardeo's approach to make paying for college less risky.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty