How College Students Can Tame their Inbox

We can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve met parents and they identify managing an inbox as one of their student’s biggest challenges…and most annoying for the parent. It’s true, many college students struggle with their inboxes. The number of unread emails in student’s inboxes can become quite astronomical, sometimes in the 1000’s or even 10,000’s. This creates a lot of dysfunction and problems.

Students miss class updates, assignment deadline changes, classes getting switched to virtual, and on and on. Professors make really important announcements via email and students have to be doing their job so they don’t miss these. Students need to learn how they can tame their inbox and make it work for them. Below are some strategies that they can employ.

Archive- We push students to use this same strategy with their Google Drive. Instead of deleting everything and possibly losing something important, students can create an archive folder and drag old emails into it. This gets them out of sight but holds them in case they ever need to be searched for and found. The inbox will instantly get less cluttered.

Unsubscribe- Now that the inbox has been cleared, as new emails come in, unsubscribe from the ones that you don’t need. Most people have plenty of companies and websites they’ve made purchases on by sending them messages, sometimes once every day. Start to unsubscribe from as many emails as possible. The most common complaint we hear from students is that they get so many emails, that they can’t find the ones that are important. This step will help eliminate this issue.

Have a system- Typically, we tell students that they have 3 options for email: save, delete, or archive. If an email is important and you’ll need to use it soon, leave it in your inbox. If it’s not relevant to anything, delete it. And if it’s something that you think you may need to learn but aren’t sure, drop it in the archive folder to keep the inbox clean. This is a simple system and the same we emphasize with actual pieces of paper that go in a student’s folder.

It goes without saying that a key to this system is checking email frequently and connecting it to their phone. When students work through these steps and can start to build consistency with checking their email, their inbox will be in good shape.

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