Martin’s Weblog

SOS: Email – kick the habit

SOS – Save Our Systems

Email overload is a problem for our users and our systems.

Save yourselves and your systems – kick the habit – reduce your “email dependency” – there are other ways

– Don’t use college email for personal use

– Don’t use email for files

– Don’t use email for non-urgent matters

– Don’t use email for discussions  

– Use email for private and “confidential” communications

– Use email where urgency is needed

– Use email only to grab attention (one-to-one or one-to-many) 

– Use blogs, discussion groups or social networks where many-to-many interaction is required

– Use file sharing sites like Flickr, Youtube where files can be shared in public

– Use social networking sites to share information with a community of users


February 6, 2008 - Posted by | ICT, IT and education


  1. You missed out talking, sometimes it is nice to have a chat.

    Comment by Penny | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. hello

    Always happy to try something different and yes groaning under the weight of emails and of informaiton overload


    Comment by sheila fraser whyte | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. I would add
    Don’t use Reply to All unless everyone must read your comment. Reply to sender only.
    Don’t cc people as a matter of course. Is it important for ohter people to know abuot your news.

    I get so many emails that I just delete. My pet hate is the one that says, “I can’t make it.” 9/10 it is only the meeting organiser that needs to know this not other people who have been invited.

    Comment by Alan Carter | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. I think that e-mails should be read regularly, particularly work-related ones, and then deleted and/or actioned. I know some members of staff who look at mail only once or twice a week!

    Comment by Sangita Ranchhod | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. Martin –

    Out here in the world of teaching, Bebo, Facebook, YouTube etc have become the bane of classroom management. As if we didn’t have enough to contend with, trying to get students off these sites, as well as MSN Hotmail, is virtually impossible in a PC-equipped classroom.

    The suggestion that we as teachers also should exploit such sites in preference to emailing strikes me as taking the lid off Pandora’s Box. Why are you advocating it?

    Sadly, very few teachers and especially managers seem to understand the notion of Netiquette – this is the real bugbear!

    Kind regards. Roger.

    Comment by roger vipond | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. Roger,

    The blog was about email – better ways to use it and better alternatives for some uses like information sharing and discusssions (like this one for example)

    I am experimenting with Facebook among some of the IT services staff as a way of sharing ideas and information and discussions.

    I fully appreciate the issues and tensions of access to social networking in computer equiped clssrooms.

    The issue of social networking and web 2 in education is a hot topic at the moment – have a look at the Economist debate at

    Comment by martinking | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. Right. I read the opening statements in the Economist debate a couple of weeks back. Both speakers were using academic gobbledegook, and appeared to be far removed from the real world of teaching, so I gave up!

    In truth, I would simply not be able to do my job without continual access to (internal) email. It is almost the only means of communicating in a timely fashion with my colleagues (apart from Latymers of course), since our timetabled breaks never match and our staff rooms are dispersed all over the Collett wing.

    On a more serious note, I’m impressed by your WordPress site – why didn’t you tell us about this sooner?

    Regards. Roger.

    Comment by roger vipond | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  8. I think it is a great idea, sites like blog spot amongst others make it very easy to create and contribute to blogs. I think that it is also important to remind people to delete emails that are really old, although of course often people use them to track conversations or issues.

    Comment by Sarah Fraser | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  9. I agree that the internal email is overused and misused. I think, though, that the alternatives will not really work.

    In the ESOL Division we have set up a discussion board which is hardly ever used. This becomes a catch 22 situation where colleagues are reluctant to submit comments on the board because they fear no one will read them and so they email everyone.

    The problems and dangers of Facebook are well documented in the press. (see

    I think the way forward is a campaign to get college email users to think before they email. Martin’s check list at the top of this page could be put up near every PC -and while we are at it, let’s put up a similar list next to the printers to stop unnecessary and wastefull printing.
    Somebody mentioned those who do not permanently delete emails. I know people who print them…but I digress…

    Comment by Nikos | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  10. Roger,

    The WordPress site is there for discovery – it’s linked via my Googlepage from the IT Helpdesk pages and from the signature in my email.

    I didn’t want to push it – the new paradign is pull rather than push – have a look at paradigm2

    Comment by martinking | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  11. Everyone – thank you for your comments – all good stuff.

    I will add the tips about email to the “netiquette” page on the Intranet – will also add them to a public page or blog as well.

    Comment by martinking | February 8, 2008 | Reply

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