You know that feeling you get when the little number next to your inbox folder gets to THAT number? We’ve all been there and it can feel overwhelming to get it back under control. So we’ve gathered some tips for helping you manage your inbox more effectively this semester.

Ditch emails in favor of discussion boards.

Are you inundated with student emails, especially emails from multiple students that ask the same questions? Have you wondered why students are emailing you so often? If you have experienced a higher than normal volume of student emails, you may need to revisit the entire communication setup for your course. Consider an online system to supplement or replace email, and direct students to it. For example, you can set up a discussion board through Canvas for your class and then direct students to ask any course-related questions there, rather than email. You’ll still get notified, but the rest of the class will see the question too and might answer a common question for you or perhaps your answer will pre-empt another email. Get more tips for using discussion boards in Canvas

Don’t be afraid of DELETE (or archive)

We all are guilty of holding on to every email “just in case” we may need to reference it again. But, how often do you really reference old emails? How long are you holding on to old emails? Now is the time to HIT THAT DELETE BUTTON.

Ask yourself, when is the last time you looked at an email that was more than a year old? If the answer is never, give yourself permission to delete.  

If it is too much to actually delete the emails, create a time-based folder system and move the emails in there (our advice: start with a year-based system, then move to semester-based as you start to wrangle your inbox). 

Start this semester off right and archive or delete any emails from before 2019. Then, mark your calendar for the next time you need to archive your emails and commit to it. Do this every semester and your inbox will feel fresh and timely. 

Need to reference an email from an earlier semester? Let the search bar find it.

Want to achieve Inbox Zero?

Is 2020 the year of inbox zero? Here’s a really great guide for using categories to reframe how you think about email and achieve that shiny little 0 next to your inbox.

Unsubscribe. Seriously.

How often do you open your inbox to mountains of emails from listservs, blogs, and businesses? NOW is the time to start unsubscribing (or, if they allow, reducing the frequency).

Love a particular blog’s newsletter but NEVER have the time to read their weekly digest? Unsubscribe and mark your calendar with a recurring monthly time to go check out their blog and read what interests you. You’ll still get the content you want but on a timetable that works for you. 

While we hope that you find our emails particularly enlightening and helpful, we also recognize that sometimes you just get too much email. If you want to stop receiving our emails–send us a note at You can always sign back up later! 

Set a schedule for checking email

Ever heard of time-blocking? Even if you don’t use this particular time-management strategy, setting email-checking limits can be a helpful way to manage your email (and your sanity).

Give yourself 10-20 minutes, say, morning, noon, and at the end of the work day to check your email. Use this time to gather your to-do items and respond to urgent messages, and then get back to the actual work.

Limiting yourself to specific, but regular intervals will help you feel like you aren’t missing things, but you also aren’t constantly being interrupted by that “new message” notification. Speaking of, make sure you aren’t constantly being interrupted by notifications! Check out how to change Gmail and Outlook notifications. 

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