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How to Organize Your Email For School

Last updated August 18, 2023

Many students often juggle multiple responsibilities, such as school, work, and extracurricular activities. A great way to stay on track in each is to have an organized email account.

In college (and sometimes in high school), email is the main form of communication between you and your advisors, professors, and student clubs and organizations. If you have a job or internship, your boss may also use email as their main form of communication. It’s important to have an organized inbox so you don’t miss out on crucial updates and won’t be caught off guard by things like assignment deadlines, pop quizzes, or changes to your work schedule! Here are a few tips to organize your email effectively so that you can hit the ground running when school starts!

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Familiarize yourself with email apps & programs

The first step to organizing your email is to familiarize yourself with the email apps or platforms available on your mobile device, such as Gmail, iCloud, and Microsoft Office.

On your mobile device, take the time to explore different functions of the email app you’re using– including how to compose, send, reply, forward, or delete an email. Other functions that may be available on a mobile device include gestures for quick actions (like swiping left or right to quickly delete a message), setting timely notifications, or using the search function to quickly locate important emails.

On the computer, you can organize your emails even further. For example, creating filters or rules helps sort incoming messages and prevents your inbox from getting too cluttered. You can also customize your settings to have new or flagged emails shown at the top of your inbox, which can prevent important messages from getting lost. Lastly, check out platform-specific tips tailored to applications like Gmail or Outlook so you can get the most out of the features and customize your inbox to work for you!

Use folders & set up rules to categorize emails

Have you ever struggled to find a specific email in your inbox and wished there was a better way of keeping things organized? Setting up folders or labels is a great way to categorize and sort your messages, preventing important information from getting lost. Examples include:

  • Folders for each quarter or semester of school (i.e. “Fall 2023”), with sub-folders for each class (i.e. “COMM 101)
  • Folders for your extracurricular activities
  • One folder for internship updates
  • One folder for work updates
  • One folder for general campus updates
  • One folder with important information on college or scholarship applications
  • …and more!

Example of how emails are sorted into different labels - by semester/quarter, by class, etc.

After creating your folders, you can set up rules or filters to automatically sort your emails– essentially breaking down your inbox into several smaller, more manageable inboxes. It may take a few tries to figure out a system that works for you, but once you find the right setup, your email organization will be a breeze!

Managing multiple email accounts? Try mail forwarding

While most schools set up an email account for you in their designated system, you may also have a separate email for personal use. It can get overwhelming to constantly switch between different email accounts, so one way to keep track of all of them is to set up email forwarding. This setting works by sending all of your messages from different email accounts into one inbox so you can easily read and respond to everything in one place. For example, you can choose your personal email account as your main inbox, then go into the settings of your school email account to enable mail forwarding.

Structure your email time

Some students find themselves spending a lot of time reading and replying to emails, while others have so many unread messages that they avoid checking their inbox altogether! If either of these scenarios apply to you, there are several ways to structure your time so that you can tackle your inbox bit by bit. One strategy is to check your emails only when you have time to respond, to give each message your undivided attention and avoid leaving anyone hanging. Another strategy is to schedule your email sessions, either in one long stretch of time or in shorter bursts throughout the day, depending on what works best for your productivity. Using the OHIO method (“Only Handle It Once”) is another way to effectively manage your inbox where you take immediate action upon opening an email, whether you reply to it, organize it into a designated folder, or delete it right away.

Regularly unsubscribe from newsletters you never read

Regularly unsubscribing from newsletters you never read is another way to keep your inbox organized. To unsubscribe from most newsletters, look for the "Unsubscribe" link usually located at the bottom of the email, click on it, and follow the prompts to complete the process. You can do this whenever you check your emails, or by setting a dedicated time (i.e. on a monthly basis) to only focus on reviewing your subscriptions and unsubscribing from any that no longer interest you.

Learn to identify phishing & scam emails

It’s important to know how to spot phishing and scam emails because they can be dangerous and put your online security at risk. To identify spam, be wary of things like long email addresses, messages with lots of mistakes in spelling or grammar, or urgent requests for personal information (like your birthday, social security number, home address, etc.). Most importantly, do not open emails with unexpected attachments or links, especially if it’s from a person or organization you don’t know. Regularly checking your spam or junk folder is also crucial, as sometimes important emails can end up there by mistake. To avoid getting spam emails in the future, be careful about sharing your email address or any personal information online, and only sign up for newsletters from websites you trust (like Get Schooled!).

By making email organization a priority, you'll be able to stay in the loop and be ready for anything that comes your way! Want to learn more ways to keep organized? Sign up for emails from Get Schooled or text #Hello to 33-55-77

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