One of the problems in this electronic age is that there are so many emails that need to be answered. Personally, I have a hard time keeping up at times; I have around 100-150 students a semester. Add to that vendors, colleagues, students interested in our CIS department programs or Graphic Design programs, adjunct faculty, and prospective students, and I have a lot of people who send me email messages.
One of the first things that has to go on my work email is forwards. Sometimes, students (and colleagues) decide to send me forwards, and I have to be firm about that not being okay. For example, I recently received a forward about how teaching math has changed. It's cute and all, but I've seen it about four times already, plus, it's not appropriate use of my work email. (Most companies have formal policies on email like this one specifically requiring email use be restricted to work purposes only).
Secondly, the use of templates has helped me a lot. I've got some templates set up for students who email with questions regarding the Graphic Design program, as well as potential adjuncts who send resumes in (my department chair, Professor Siegel, has had me overseeing this lately). Instead of having to think I can copy and paste from my Flash drive. For example, if I get a resume from a potential adjunct, I have this template handy:
My name is Eric Cameron. I am a member of the CIS faculty at PCCC. Your resume was forwarded to me.
The school typically requires a Master's Degree from teaching applicants, but we will keep your resume on file.
The school typically requires prior teaching experience from teaching applicants, but we will keep your resume on file.
At the moment, our department is in the process of reviewing resumes for the Fall 2009 semester. We are specifically looking for someone who can teach daytime courses. Please let me know if you would have any availability for teaching day courses.
We will keep your resume on file as we look to fill courses.
Assistant Professor, CIS/Engineering Department
Coordinator, Graphic Design Certificate
Passaic County Community College
Now, notice there are three parts in there that I've highlighted in red. The reason is that most resumes will not see the first two lines (about the Master's degree and about the teaching experience). Those are there because at times I saw people sending in resumes with no Master's degree or no teaching experience. Our department rarely hires someone with no teaching experience, and even more rarely hires someone without the Master's degree. So, basically, when I get a resume, I open it up, check the experience and education, and reply. I paste the template in to an email and just cut out the parts that don't apply.
This has saved me a ton of time, and it helps the department. If someone sends a resume, and doesn't hear anything for six months, they are less likely to respond if we do call them eventually. Some of these folks ended up getting called in January this year when a class opened up. At least they knew that we had previously looked at their resume.
Tips like this, tips that I have implemented, have come from a site that had a series of articles called "Inbox Zero" - a free set of articles that discuss strategies to be more effective. This includes things like filters, etiquette (do you send a "thank you" email, or no?), and other tips.
Definitely worth a read if you deal with large amounts of email messages and feel overwhelmed.