E-Mail Management

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Email is now the de facto standard for business communication across organizations at this time. Recent research shows the extensive use of emails in business and its projected growth in the future presents major information management challenges and risks for many organizations. Just as any type of business information and record, email must be included as part of, and adhered to the organizational standards addressing information and records:
  • Capture
  • Classification
  • Storage
  • Preservation
  • Management
  • Destruction
The vast quantities of emails held in inboxes, sent folders, and deleted item folders put the organization at risk and adversely impact the performance of email servers in the organizations. Email servers were never designed to act as repositories for such great quantities of emails and move control of this information away from the organization. 

Without the management of emails, it is difficult for organizations to meet their legal preservation requirements in the event of litigation and government investigations, increasing the effort and cost in responding to ediscovery and disclosure.

Email management systems centrally capture emails created and received by employees. Using a classification scheme to manage this content, retention periods and access controls can be applied to manage emails. Metadata associated with the emails can be captured to allow this information to be managed and retrieved. Email active archiving is one of the most common applications for email management. 

At their most basic, these solutions either copy or remove messages from the messaging application and some it at another location. Some approaches copy all messages coming into and out of the messaging application in real time, while others will physically remove the messages from the message store. In some of these solutions, the messages are not archived, but attachments are and are replaced with either a stub or an outright link within the message.

These email management systems, while attractive and effective, are merely part of an overall solution. Organizations need to have records management programs, consisting of organization-wide policies and procedures, staff and activities, in which these computer applications can be successfully utilized.
Here are four simple email management rules to help you keep control of your inbox:
  • Let your email program manage your email as much as possible. Email management starts with setting up and using filters. If you're using an email program such as Outlook, you can configure email rules to send your spam directly to the trash - meaning that you don't waste your time reading and deleting it.

  • Do not check your email on demand. You don't need to see every piece of email the second it arrives. If you're using an email program that announces the arrival of new email, turn off the program's announcement features, such as making a sound or having a pop-up screen announce the arrival of email. Checking email on demand can seriously interfere with whatever other tasks you're trying to accomplish because most people will read email when they check it.

  • Don't read and answer your email all day long. You may get anywhere from a handful to hundreds of emails each day that need to be answered, but they don't need to be answered immediately, interrupting whatever else you're doing. Instead, set aside a particular time each day to review and answer your email. Schedule the hour or whatever time it takes you to answer the volume of email you get, and stick to that schedule as regularly as possible.

  • Don't answer your email at your most productive time of day. For me, (and for many others, I suspect), my most productive work time is the morning. If I start my work day by answering my email, I lose the time that I'm at my most creative. If I'm writing a piece, for instance, it takes me twice as long to compose it in the afternoon or evening than it would in the morning, when I feel fresh and alert.
Answering email, on the other hand, isn't usually a task that calls for a great deal of creativity. So by ignoring my email until the late afternoon, and answering it then, I get the dual benefit of saving my most productive time for other more demanding tasks, and not continually interrupting whatever other tasks I'm trying to accomplish.

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