Best Email Practices for the Busy AA

Michele Warg
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As a busy administrative assistant, it can be challenging to juggle all of your daily responsibilities, especially if your email inbox receives a constant stream of messages. While email has revolutionized the way people communicate at work, it can also wreak havoc on your productivity if it’s not managed properly. Read on for tips on how to make your email work for you.

Manage Your Inbox

Take advantage of your email program's features, such as sorting, labeling, and tracking messages according to subject, sender or date. Create a system of folders and sub-folders your email messages can go to automatically to prevent crowding up your main inbox. This way, you can stay on top of urgent requests while keeping track of messages that can wait.

Respond to Emails

Only respond to an email when absolutely necessary. If you receive a message that is for your information only, don't bother crafting a vague response, as this only wastes your time and the sender's time. If you receive a message that does require action or a response, try to get it handled within 24 hours. Doing so makes you appear professional and is much more courteous than waiting days to reply.

Check Your Inbox

An admin's inbox is never stagnant, and the constant influx of messages into your email inbox can eat away at your productivity if you find yourself constantly checking it. Instead, set aside specific times during the work day to check and respond to your emails. Consider checking your emails first thing in the morning, before and after lunch, and an hour before you leave the office. If you need to check more often, set a timer for every hour, and only spend a few minutes checking on the most important things.

Emailing vs. Calling

Although email is by far the most used form of communication in today's workplace, it's not always the best choice. If the information you're sending is concise and straightforward, your best bet is probably email. However, time-sensitive information, information that is highly personal or controversial, or anything that might be misconstrued is best communicated with a phone call or face-to-face meeting. You don't want to run the risk of your email falling into the wrong hands or being misinterpreted.

Prevent Mistakes

One email faux pas can haunt an administrative assistant for weeks, so take the time to prevent embarrassing mistakes before you hit "Send." First, compose your email in its entirety before you add a name in the "To" field. This helps prevent your email from being sent too soon, even if you accidentally click the "Send" button. If the email is being forwarded, be sure to double-check the names of its recipients; remove anyone that doesn't have authorization or require your response. Finally, reread your email out loud a couple of times to make sure it flows correctly and has the right tone.

As an administrative assistant, your inbox can make or break a productive day. Use these suggestions to get control of your email inbox and make a good impression on the people you communicate with.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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