Help Your Users Manage Their Inbox

There are some people who receive hundreds of email messages every day. Even those who are not on that end of the spectrum often complain that they spend too much time each day opening, reading, deleting and responding to emails; causing them a great deal of stress.

As an email administrator this can be problematic because when people find a technology to be burdensome they might avoid using it, or even worse, lose respect for the policies and governing practices associated with that technology.

In plain English, if your users are stressed, when they use their email they might make mistakes or act carelessly. Careless users leave the door open for spear phishing attacks and other email threats; and that can be problematic for any organization.

To help keep your users a bit more relaxed when it comes to their email, they need to be taught how to better manage it. It doesn’t matter if they are overwhelmed by only a few emails a day; if they are shown ways to keep their inbox under control your job will be much easier.

Setting aside a specific time

Some organizations require employees to check their email a certain number of times per day. If this is the case where you work, help users understand that if they set aside blocks of time dedicated to their email they can get things under control. If, for example, your workplace requires that email be checked twice a day then a good way to deal with email is once in the mid-morning, to address anything that came from the night before or early that day, and again later in the afternoon. Checking in the afternoon usually helps clear out the inbox before a person leaves for the day so they are not overwhelmed the next morning.

Save and review messages before sending

When a person is writing a report or a memo that is very important they often write up a draft and then go over it a few times before sending it out to everyone. The same should be done with important emails. Users should be taught that when something is important, they can save it as a draft and come back to it later. If they are following the first bit of advice, perhaps it would be wise to write up this email first, address their other messages, and then come back to it when they are done.

While this may not seem like it will help deal with stress, many people are surprised at how many mistakes they make when writing emails. The confidence that they are sending something well written and on point will help keep them relaxed.

Treat emails as a representation of your organization

Emails written for work related purposes should reflect that. Co-workers should never send anything inappropriate from their work account because it could reflect poorly on the company’s brand and reputation.

Likewise, employees should make sure that they do not send sensitive or confidential information through their email that could be seen by the wrong people. It should be emphasized that email is not as private as people think it is.

What you can do

Of course the email administrator’s job is to oversee the upkeep of the mail system. Part of that responsibility is to make sure that your users are not inundated with junk emails or malicious emails.  In one study, 72 percent of all users feel that they still receive too much spam. This means that we are not doing our jobs.

Make sure that your organization has the right tools in place to fight against spam and phishing attacks. Using a reputable anti-spam solution that makes management and updates easy is the foundation of any good security plan these days.

Not only will fighting mail borne threats help keep your users happy, but they will help make your job easier as well. As more attackers look to email as an entry way into the network, addressing these vulnerabilities will help you keep your systems running the way they should and your organization’s resource safe and out of the attacker’s hands.

Written by Jeff


  1. L.J. · February 12, 2013

    Also, teach them how to classify emails – for instance in folders or with the help of labels. These two approaches help to manage an inbox tremendously and users won’t complain they can’t find that important email they received last week.

  2. Wesley · February 12, 2013

    I think more than anything else users should be trained about spam, get them educated. Everyone should learn self-discipline. Unless a person has one, all these controls are in vain. They will just find a way to beat or go around the system so they can check their emails anytime they want to. Email addiction should also be carefully looked into. It’s not something that should be joked about or completely ignored, because it’s a very serious case. People get the satisfaction when they get to open their mails all the time.

  3. Jasmine Romero · February 18, 2013

    Amen to that, Wesley. Most of the methods I know I learned from education, well, mostly self education. One of the reasons why I agree with your point is because humans normally act based on understanding. For example, those who set up anti-spam filters in their PCs or websites are those who know how spam can be such a huge problem in terms of security. So until Internet users understand the dangers of spam, they’d never do anything about it or stop blindly following all those rules IT people put out there.

  4. Anne Maine · February 27, 2013

    I’m very grateful to be here because I’ve learned a lot of great tips. A few days ago, as well, I was given the opportunity to attend a Google seminar, where we were taught how to organize our inbox more effectively, such as how to add labels and then filter messages so they will end up in each of the categories. It was incredibly helpful since I can easily spot the mails I don’t need or are spam. I also learned how to display the most important messages based on my correspondence with the people in my contact list.

  5. Susan Gables · February 27, 2013

    One of the tips that I could share is to regularly check e-mails even if you’re expecting only personal mails. You’ll never really know. Sometimes spam can still end up in the least used mails. That’s how spammers work. They hunt for all sorts of mails. It’s only by checking that we can spot spam and prevent them from spreading by immediately reporting them to the e-mail platform. The only thing that one has to watch out for is the addiction. We should also learn to limit the number of times we check our mails. I prefer to check it at most twice a day.

  6. Andrei Lyle · June 2, 2013

    Two things are important: teaching users how to classify emails (as per L.J.’s suggestion) and educating them about spam (as per Wesley’s comment). When a user knows how to classify his email, he can regularly clean out his email. Thus, he will have a fairly good idea of which ones should be prioritized and which ones he should not bother with. It is a good way of identifying any suspicious email. Educating users about what spam is, how it works and what it can do is one of the best ways to prevent spammers from taking advantage of email owners.

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