Home' Independence : Independence Vol 33 No 2 Oct 2008 Contents Independence Volume 33 No. 2 77
How to manage email overload
most of our schools, Heads and senior
staff have been developing protocols and
procedures for staff and students in the
area of computer and mobile phone usage.
Much of this has unavoidably been 'catch
up', rather like the construction of motor-
ways in our cities. Yet one wonders how
many Heads have thought through the
issues affecting their personal operation in
respect of these technologies. Is their valu-
able time being used to optimum effect? Is
it time to take stock?
Only one person in a school is appropri-
ately equipped to provide the long-term
planning and vision for the school, and that
is the Head. And if the Head is immersed
in 'today', then 'tomorrow' will be less well
provided for. The advance of technology is
so rapid that it can subtly assume control.
Unless users avoid pragmatic, short-term
responses and adopt well considered
management strategy in their use of new
technologies they will find themselves not
liberated by it, but enslaved.
Bob Grant was Headmaster of Sydney Church of
England Grammar School (Shore) from 1984 to
2002. During this time, when he was also State
Chairman of AHISA NSW/ACT, and a member
of Standing Committee (1993-2002), he was
active in his expression of practical concern for
the personal and professional welfare of Heads
of independent schools. In retirement he has con-
tinued his association with independent schools
as interim Head of various schools, through his
ongoing involvement in professional development
programs for Heads and other school leaders, as
a consultant to boards in Head selection and as
Executive Officer AHISA NSW/ACT. He is an
Honorary Member of AHISA.
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
Even well-organised executives are
finding 'smart' technologies are
making them feel their day is spiralling
out of control. Productivity software
like MS Outlook and Lotus Notes,
designed to get us more organised,
only seems to add to the problem.
E-trainer Dermot Crowley of Adapt
Training Solutions says mastering
digital productivity tools is the answer
and he shares six tips on how to stay
on top in the age of technology.
1 Don't despair. I have seen Inboxes
with 28,000 emails in them. I have known
people who send emails to themselves
to remind themselves that they need to
action an email already in their Inbox.
Some people give up and just delete the
lot! There is help, and it's right in front
of you. Applying a little thought, and
maybe some training, to how you use
the productivity tools on your computer
will deliver a planning system far more
powerful than the old paper systems.
2 Plan your week. Don't let your week
just happen to you, plan what you
need to achieve, and get the necessary
activities out of your head and into your
system! Learn to make email manage-
ment a part of the day, to deal with it at
regular intervals (between three and six
times a day), and then put it away to fo-
cus on priorities and commitments. Turn
off email alerts and alarms, they are just
distractions from other work.
3 Centralise all work in one tool. There are
two types of activity you need to manage:
meetings workload and tasks workload.
Most people use their electronic system to
manage meetings, but the tasks are spread
across many different tools, including to-do
lists, spiral notepads, post-it notes and their
head. Both MS Outlook and Lotus Notes
have powerful task management systems.
It makes sense to use them if much of your
work is driven by email, and both systems
allow you to convert emails to tasks (Drag
an email to Tasks in Outlook; Copy into New
button in Lotus Notes).
4 Treat your Inbox as a delivery dock.
Managing your Inbox is all about man-
aging actions, and every email can be
processed and actioned with one of the
following five Ds: Delete; Drag to file;
Delegate (Forward, then File or Delete);
Decide when (schedule as a task); Do it
now (Reply, then File or Delete).
5 Protect your Inbox. Inbox noise is a
term now used to describe all the emails
you receive that do not directly help you
achieve your goals and objectives. Use
the email Rules function in Outlook or
Lotus Notes to automatically delete or
file emails that are informational or not of
immediate relevance. Set up expectations
with your team (who may generate a lot of
the noise) about what you need to know
or expect them to link you in on. Get off
unnecessary distribution lists and email
6 Compose better emails. The clearer
your email is to the reader, the more
likely they are to action it in a timely way.
Write clear subject lines with impact and
state any actions required and due dates
in the first line or two of the email. Con-
sider the 'five sentences' method (http://
Dermot Crowley is a
director of Adapt Train-
ing Solutions, a lead-
ing corporate training
company that specialises in
enhancing productivity and
effectiveness through the
smarter use of technology.
Dermot's client list includes Macquarie Bank,
NAB, Boral, Reserve Bank of Australia and the
NSW Catholic education system. For more
information visit www.adapttraining.com.au
or contact Dermot direct at dermot.crowley@
Only one person in a
school is appropriately
equipped to provide
planning and vision
for the school, and
that is the Head.
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