5 Strategies for Reducing Student Email

Today’s A Month of Favorites topic is five most useful digital lifehacks, so I’m going to talk about something that has made my digital life easier: reducing the number of emails I get from students.

Email, email, email

Student emails can’t be avoided, but the problem with most student emails is that they tend to be thoughtless and rushed, which winds up making more work for me in the end. I don’t like doing extra work. Like, at all. So here are some things I’ve done so that I spend less time answering student emails and more time doing, well, anything else.

1. I teach effective email strategies on the first day of class.

As I mentioned, student emails tend to be thoughtless and rushed–even more so now that a lot of them send emails from their phones and treat emails like text messages. So on the first day, I review audience and purpose with my students, especially as it relates to email. I remind them that they usually want their professors to take them seriously, so it’s important that they send respectful emails that make it seem like they actually care. We go over subject lines and signing emails and making sure to use correct grammar and spelling.

I also make sure my students know that I do not check my email at all hours of the day. I explain that I do not check email on my phone, and that, for me, email lives in the computer, and I do have a life outside of work. (This helps for the students who expect an instantaneous response.)

I forgot to do it this semester, but next semester I am also going to go over problem solving (i.e., don’t email me with a problem; email me with a possible solution to the problem.) I figure that will eliminate some back and forth as well.

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