Getting the most out of email

Let's get one thing very clear here.

Never has been. Never will be. You may not pay actual money for the service, but you are paying your time and your eyes each and every day. Your time is your life. It is all you have. Time wasted responding to bulk mails and junk is wasted. I'm to the point that all press releases from people I don't know go in the TRASH. Period.

Most of us aren't journalists working for newspapers and it isn't our job to cover everything that mainstream PR firms want us to. As for me, I'd rather talk to people and converse and see what is happening that way.

You won't get extra stars on your tombstone because you read every email. Some things aren't worth reading.

Stop the madness and ignore, delete and trash junk email and then maybe those that do it will realize that they are wasting the lives of good people.

The problem is the trash is getting in the way of doing real work that is important to me. I am going to get this email under control starting with sharing this with all of you in the hopes that you will pass it along.

Some habits that will help us all.
Why email when a phone call will do? I think everyone who uses email should adopt the email charter.

The email charter in a nutshell:

When emailing,

  • Don't waste time, 
  • Don't think a short message is rude – it is actually very considerate,
  • Be crystal clear in your subject line
  • Never ask open ended questions, be specific
  • Don't cc if it isn't necessary
  • If a thread goes over 3 replies pick up the phone
  • Don't use graphics or logos in your signature that appear as attachments
  • Use EOM (End of Message) and NNTR (No need to reply) in your workgroups
  • Don't reply to every email with wasted space
  • Disconnect from email sometimes.
I'd add …
Respect other people's time and schedule a message for later if you don't really need a reply right then (use Boomerang – see below.)

Gmail Productivity Apps

There are a couple of apps that can improve your work in Gmail as well as some habits that could help us all. I use Gmail, so here are some apps of note if you use that popular service. Find something similar for your favorite tool.


If you're working late or sending a message to someone that you know uses a Blackberry or checks email all day long and you just don't want to interrupt their weekend, schedule the message to be sent Monday morning at a reasonable time. It also will send you a reminder if you haven't heard back from someone which will let you feel comfortable emptying out your inbox.


This app creates the best email signatures that I've seen and connects to your social media accounts. Just don't insert your latest tweet if you're one of those people who tweets things you'd rather not everyone know (although why would you do that in the first place, I'm not sure.) This is a freemium model which means you'll be asked to upgrade if you want “fancier” templates although I'm happy with the standard template myself. I'm working with it as it still looks too long to me and I'm going to remove some of the social media buttons. I haven't found a way to easily add my book information either, however, I do like that you can have different defaults depending on the account you're sending from and for me, it may be worth looking at the upgrade just for that.

Priority Inbox
There are some cool layouts within Gmail such as priority inbox, although be very careful here as I've missed important emails down at the bottom when using priority inbox. Go into your settings (on the top right) and get familiar with all of the features and make sure you've set it up just like you want to.

Canned Responses

I have certain responses for requests I get a lot. Speaking, advertising, guest post requests (I don't do them – they are invitation ONLY).


I do want to mention an app that is out there for those of you who HAVE to know if people are opening your emails. Yesware is for salespeople but because it allows you to create templates and see if people open your messages, I could see great applications for school administrators and office managers. It is getting great reviews in gmail productivity circles but I haven't used this one personally.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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