EMAIL MANAGEMENT success toolkit series

You've Got Mail!

On this page we'll explore all the Do's & Don'ts of digital communication, learn about email management best practices, and share inbox organization tips. Scroll below to start your path to effective email management! Along the way we'll cover:

  1. When to use email communication
  2. What your emails can say about you!
  3. Email do's & don'ts
  4. Strategies for organizing your email inbox
  5. UMass email vs. personal email
  6. Putting it into practice
  7. Technology help at UMass

There will be different pausing points along the way where you can reflect and write down your thoughts. Be sure to download the fillable Email Management worksheet below:

When to Use Email Communication

During your student experience at UMass, you'll likely find yourself communicating with a variety of people on campus. You may find that you communicate with your course instructors, fellow students, advisors, and student support offices along your path to graduation.

How do people communicate across campus? Types of communication that students might use can include:

  • Face to Face Meetings
  • Phone Calls
  • Physical Mail
  • Social Media
  • Comments/feedback on Moodle, Blackboard, or messages in Navigate.
  • and more!

So when is it best to use email communication?


Return to your Email Management Worksheet to brainstorm when email is an appropriate communication tool. In what scenarios do you think email works best?

Moments When Email is not the Best Form of Communication

  • Interactive dialogues (such as an explanation of a concept or a problem or a back-and-forth conversation)
  • Complicated explanations (such as something going on in your life that needs to be shared with a UMass faculty/staff member)
  • Difficult conversations & sensitive topics
  • Generally, anything that takes more than 5 sentences
What Your Emails Can Say About You!

Emails can share a lot about the individual who is writing them. For example, in an email you can show your audience that: you are respectful, you attempted to find the answer on your own first, you followed directions (from a webpage or syllabus), and that you can type and spell.

What you say in an email is just as important as how you say it! Consider the following when composing your email:

  • Using a Professional Tone
  • Your writing style
  • Considering and respecting your audience
  • Being reasonable and respectful with language and requests
  • Use “I” statements

Your audience can also learn about you from your email signature. See the example email signature below and watch this short clip to learn how to create your own email signature in your UMass Gmail account.

Email Do's & Don'ts

Try to avoid these Email Don'ts when crafting your email. It's important to note that context is important! An email you send to your roommate will look different than an email to your professor.

Email Don'ts

Email Do's


Click the link below to see examples and components of an effective email in the email management worksheet.

Strategies for Organizing Your Email Inbox

Check out the following strategies to best manage your inbox and work towards reaching 'Inbox Zero'.

Using Email Labels

For UMass Gmail accounts, students can create and use various Gmail labels to keep their messages organized. See the right image for a few general examples of what email labels you can use.

Want to set up your own Gmail labels? Check out the video below for a brief set up tutorial!

The Four D's of Email Organization

Log into your inbox and walk through these steps in order to effectively manage your messages and work towards reaching 'Inbox Zero'.

1.) Delete it: First go through and delete any messages you feel are unimportant or do not need a response. Are you getting frequent coupons or newsletters that no longer interest you? Click unsubscribe to free up some space and limit your incoming messages.

2.) Delegate it: Is this email better suited for someone else? If you have an email that another person could best respond to or handle (such as group work or multiple CC'd contacts) politely ask that individual to respond and move the message out of your inbox.

3.) Defer it: For emails that take longer than 5 minutes, defer these tasks to a later time and place them in a folder or label to come back to later.

4.) Do it! Next take care of the emails that you can respond to in five minutes or less. Do what you can now, and save larger tasks/messages for later.

Practice Email Minimalism

Imagine for a moment that your email inbox was turned into physical mail. Would you have a small stack of letters on your desk? Or a gargantuan mountain of coupons, promotions, services, updates, and advertisements?

The idea of Email Minimalism allows us to be intentional with our influx of emails and prioritize what messages really matter to us for digital communication and consumption.

Want to learn more about Email Minimalism? Check out the link to an article below.

To start practicing email minimalism, consider using your UMass student email and personal email for different purposes and think about what subscriptions you'd like to keep in place.

UMass Email Vs. Personal Email

We've covered ways that you can manage and organize your email, but what about using different email accounts? What are the differences between your @umass.edu account and personal email accounts?

Student Email Vs. Personal Email

Putting it into Practice

Time to tie it all together! Out of the two email messages below, which do you think is best composed?

Now it's Your Turn!


Take a moment to think of an email that you need to send out this week. Spend a few minutes either organizing your inbox (with Labels and the 4 D's) or practice writing out your email on the worksheet below. Before you hit Send ask yourself:

  • Is this email an appropriate form of communication? Would another form be better suited for this conversation?
  • What do I want the email to say about me?
  • Does this message follow the email Do's & Don'ts and email best practices?
Technology Help at UMass

Having trouble with your UMass email? UMass IT is here to help!

Thank you for exploring this Email Management page as a part of the Success Toolkit Series. For other topics and live workshop sessions please visit our website www.umass.edu/studentsuccess

We would love to hear from you! Please scan the QR code below or Click this Link to take a brief survey to evaluate the Success Toolkit Series and share feedback.

Have more questions? We'd love to meet with you! Click the link below to schedule an appointment with someone from Student Success. Go to Make an appointment> Success & Wellness> Follow-up Mtg: Academic Success Planning.


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