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Archives & Special Collections

Records Management: Email: Quick Tips

Small, quick things you can do to get your inbox under control.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now To Triage Your Email

The fewer emails cluttering your inbox, the easier it will be to find those messages that you really need. Believe it or not, purging records when they are eligible for destruction is good records management. Don't know where to start?

Emails that can be deleted immediately

  • Announcements: UofL Today, campus-wide messages from the President or Provost, unit-wide information sharing, etc.
  • Copies: agendas, meeting minutes, reports, and other items that you did not create, but received a copy of
  • Listservs: we all get them...also, those emails from professional organizations
  • Logistics: emails to set up a meeting, coordinate schedules, grab lunch, etc.
  • Routine inquiries: messages that often come from outside your unit to ask about services, hours, or location Reference requests: information about or access to items held by a university library
  • Spam: commercial advertisements--solicited or not--and malicious emails

Emails that can be deleted after 1 year

  • Work schedules or assignments
  • Leave requests (not including leave under FMLA)

Emails that can be deleted after 3 years

  • Travel records: approvals, receipts, conference registrations, and flight itineraries
  • Search committee records: If you've served on a search committee, any emails that document the process or selection criteria for the candidate, including interview questions, comments, thank you notes, etc.
  • Interlibrary Loan Records: anything not recorded in the library's system

Email messages can split into multiple conversations, can exist in different versions, and can be one of many copies as they are sent or forwarded. Generally speaking, the author of the email is responsible for maintaining the official copy for retention purposes. If you are the email sender or if you have modified an email that you've received, you should consult the records schedule for how long to retain the message.

Take stock of the committees or organizations you're involved with, the projects you're working on, and the folks you typically correspond with. Use these areas of your job as a way to group messages together.

Example filing plan to get you started:

  1. General Information
    1. Ideas/Brain Storms
    2. Professional Development Opportunities
    3. Reference Desk Info
  2. Projects
    1. Instruction Requests
      1. Spring 2020
      2. Fall 2020
    2. Outreach and Social Media
    3. Summer Intern
    4. Use Statistics
  3. Professional Organizations
    1. American Library Association
    2. Association of College and Research Libraries
    3. Kentucky Library Association
  4. Service
    1. Empty Position Search Committee
    2. Donuts and Snacks Working Group
    3. Strategic Planning
    4. Technical Stuff Committee

Don't worry about the hundreds (or even thousands) of emails in your inbox that date back to the early 2000s. Focus, instead, on managing what comes into your inbox on a daily basis. If you find a few minutes to tackle some of those oldies, great! Just make sure that sorting and deleting today's email is part of your daily routine.

How to Automate Your Email Triage

To help you manage your email, consider creating rules that automatically delete messages from certain email addresses or domain names, or ones that automatically move messages with a certain subject line to one of your folders. Microsoft Support provides step-by-step instructions, but there are also numerous YouTube videos that can guide you through the process.

Wow, this is fascinating! What else do you have on Email?

Get a load of this low-budget presentation. It dives a little deeper into the challenges we face in managing our email as public records.

Discover. Create. Succeed.