Fighting the Beast: A Mudder’s Crusade against Email

Hello Internet,

Joaquín here. Today, I’m talking about a spicy topic: email.

Mudders have to deal with a lot of email; I would know. Last year, I was the Students-l Moderator (or as I called myself in my head, the Students-l Mudderator). What exactly is Students-l Moderator, you might ask? Students-l is the central email communication group for the entire Harvey Mudd student body; before any email can be sent to the entire HMC student body, every email has to pass through the students-l moderator first, to ensure that all the emails being sent were clear, appropriate and complete. Imagine how many emails are sent to the student body in a day, week, month or year. Along with completing all the work that comes with being a Mudder, I had to review and approve every single one in a “reasonable” timeframe.

Being the moderator meant that I had to constantly check my inbox for emails. Everyday, I had the same routine. Wake up, check my inbox, approve/send any necessary emails, and get up. For the rest of the day, every 30 – 60 minutes, I would check my inbox for more emails. I still have some horrifying data from when I was the moderator; on a typical week, I would open my email app at least 140 times, just to make sure emails were being sent out in a timely manner. On a bad day, I could approve a couple dozen emails for the student body. As the moderator, I would actually receive twice as much email as the typical Mudder, because I would receive an email notification for each email I had to approve, and then once approved, I would receive the actual email along with the rest of the student body. That’s a lot of email to handle!

And yet, for the entire year, my email inbox contained no more than thirty emails. My secret? Well, that’s what I’m sharing with you today, trusted blog enthusiast. Here are my tips and tricks.

  • Archive all non-essential emails ASAP!

When you come to Harvey Mudd, you will be given a brand new EMPTY “hmc.edu” email account. Try to keep it as empty as you can for as long as you can – you should archive (not delete) all the emails you receive and don’t care about as soon as you can. If you delete your emails, you won’t be able to access them again if you need them; by archiving them, they’re no longer in your inbox, but if you need to find it, you still can. I try to keep my inbox at <20 emails. By keeping your inbox devoid of trash and spam, your email inbox will be filled with only important information, which makes it much more useful.

By having a relatively empty inbox, you’ll notice when emails come in. It’s easy to think about handling ten new emails if you only have thirty in your inbox, it’s harder to comprehend that notion when you already have 1,735 unread emails like my fellow intern Savanna. (note: since I started this blog, Savanna has cut down her inbox to 19 emails. Go Savanna!)

Savanna email inbox- it contains over 1700 unread emails

Savanna might have too many unread emails…

My good friend Jasmine also keeps a clean inbox, but she archives all of her emails into different folders. That way, if she’s looking for a particular email, she can go into the corresponding folder to find it. These are the different categories that she uses. I mostly just use the search bar, which honestly can be finicky at times if you don’t remember the exact wording of the email you’re looking for, so I am thinking about possibly selectively archiving.

The different categories that Jasmine uses for her archives: Academics, Action Required, Announcements, Campus Notifications, Career, Clubs, CS, Dorm, Financial, Handbells, School Events, Study Abroad, Sustainability and Work

  • Find an email client that works for you.

Sigh… It’s such an easy statement, but such a hard endeavor. The one that I’m currently using is called Edison Mail (#notSponsoredByHMC), which is available on the App Store and Google Play Store. I would highly recommend it for people who have too many random subscriptions to different email lists over the years, because of this very prominent, convenient “Unsubscribe” button it provides. You don’t need to find the tiny grayed-out “unsubscribe” link hidden at the bottom, follow the link to another webpage, type in your email again and explain why you don’t want Sephora’s emails anymore; you just hit this button and it’s over. There will be fewer useless emails to deal with in the future!

An image of the Edison Mail display, with a big prominent "Unsubscribe" button

On the whole, different email apps have a lot of different things to offer, so I would recommend trying out a few. See which ones have the best features, aesthetic and usability. Remember, this is about developing a system that is easy for you to use – setting it up can often be the hardest part, but if done right, the benefits are worth the upfront effort.

  • Respond quickly to emails

This tip is a lot easier to follow once your inbox is cleaner, but overall, listening to this tip is a win-win situation. If you respond quickly to emails, you can archive those emails and then wait for a response; you get a cleaner inbox, and the people with whom you communicate will think that you’re a proactive, good communicator. Win-win!

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Those are the tips I have for managing email, but a couple more things about email. If you want to see whether your email information has been leaked from a data breach and put on the Internet, I highly recommend this website. If your information has been compromised, it has advice on how to proceed and protect your information in the future. You can even sign up for alerts, which will let you know should any of your email information ever be compromised again. If you want some more tips about email, this article is great… at telling you the exact opposite of what you should be doing!

Comfortably writing blogs instead of emails,

Joaquín “he wails about ails of emails” Fuenzalida Nuñez

Joaquin's little doodle letting everyone know that they should have a great day!

P.S. About being the moderator:

There were some cool benefits to being the students-l moderator. If there was ever any event with a limited number of attendees, I was the first to know about it. If I was interested, I would first approve the email and send it to the student body, and then immediately sign up for the event once it was sent out. I never signed up for events before it was sent out, because that personally feels unfair (#honorCodeLifestyle), but once it was sent out, I was always one of the first people to sign up.

Being the moderator also meant I was able to control when the student body got information. I could approve an email in the dining hall, and watch as everyone around me would pick up their phones as the notifications came streaming in. Sometimes, my friends would complain about the amount of email they had, so I would send them a couple extra emails to help them feel better. 😛