E-learning updates – Surviving death by 1000 emails

One of the things I’m keen to do in my new role is to ‘drip feed’ ideas to staff via occasional emails. I’m aiming for once a fortnight, but I’m not going to get too hung up if they’re a few days either side of that. It occurred to me that some of them might be useful to a wider audience, so I’ll start adding them here as well.


Dear all,

I’m fully aware of the irony of sending this by email.

A few people have commented recently on the volume of emails now circulating for staff and the problems this can cause, so I thought it might be useful to share a few techniques that might be of use. I’m certainly not suggesting everyone does all of these, but one or two of them may help you avoid death by a thousand emails!


The search bar at the top of the email screen (just to the right of the Olchfa logo) allows you to search your email.

Know you had an email from someone? Type their name in

Know there was a message about parents evening somewhere? Type ‘parents evening’ and get the messages back with that in the text somewhere.

If you click the little grey arrow to the right of the search bar you can also do ‘power’ searches – narrowing it by people, date or even if a message had an attachment


To the left as you look at your email list is a greyed out star. If you click on it, the star turns yellow.

Clicking on ‘Starred’ in the left hand menu bar (below Inbox) brings back a list of messages you’ve starred. This can be great for keeping messages for your form together, or messages with something that you need to do!


Taking that idea one step further you can give messages ‘labels’ to help you find them later on.

Once you’ve opened the message the 6th icon along on the top (looks like a luggage label) will allow you to add multiple labels to a message. This can be more useful than folders because you can give one message more than one label.

Labels appear in the left hand menu. Clicking on one brings up all the messages with that label

Sick of having an ibox with over 1000 messages in it?! Archiving a message takes it out of your inbox, but keeps it in the system so you can find it either by searching for it, or clicking on a label you’ve given it.

You can also view all the messages you’ve got by clicking on ‘All Mail’ in the left hand menu bar


G Mail contains a built in to do list. You find it by clicking on the word ‘Mail’ (Just under the school logo at the top left) and choosing Tasks.

This has two advantages over normal to do list software. Firstly, you can sync it with your mobile / iPad (if you have such a thing) or add it to Google Calendar (if you use it)

Secondly you can turn an email into an item on your todo list by selecting ‘More’ from the menu underneath the search bar and then choosing ‘ Add to Tasks’.


Not a feature as such, but a technique which I’ve read about in a few places and use to try and stay on top of things

  • At least once a work day I’ll go though my emails.
  • If it needs no action I archive it
  • If it need action and it can be dealt with there and then, I do it. Then I archive it
  • If it’s a message for my form, I star it. Then I archive it
  • If it’s something that’s going to take me longer to do, I add it to my to do list. Then I archive it.

It does a take a few minutes every day, but it means I stand a vague chance of staying on top of things. And there is something very therapeutic about having an empty in-box!

Hopefully one or more of these may help. There are loads of other features that you can explore if you’re that way inclined. Click on settings (‘Cog’ icon in the top right), turn on ‘Labs’ and have a play!



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