What are the best practices for screening the boss’s email?

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Question: “My boss doesn’t usually get a chance to keep up with his email while he’s traveling, so when he returns to the office he has to spend most of a day going through them. I would like to help him out by screening his email while he’s away. Is this a sensible suggestion, and does anyone have any procedures in place for it?” – Joan, Business Administrator

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Pearl August 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

To quickly identify emails from my 2 bosses, I’ve set up a rule titled “CEO and COO”. Whenever either one emails me, a special popup appears which turns into a convenient list throughout the day. It doesn’t remove the original email from your inbox. It just provides a quick access/visual list of their emails to me.

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Dawna August 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I’ve tried all of the methods mentioned. The one that works the most is colored flags, or in my case, categories. We use 2010, and you can’t color the flags any longer. It works well if my boss is using his Outlook. However, the categories don’t show on his iPad or iPhone, which is what he uses while traveling. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is to change the subject line, which is not working for us, because he sorts by conversation a lot. Any ideas for something that works across platforms? Outlook & Apple?

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Cynthia August 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Those are great suggestions. In addidtion, you can sort the emails by thread, and then delete many of the reponse to group emails, keeping just the last one that contains all the earlier emails. Of course, delete all the junk mail, too.

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Joyce August 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

My boss has a BlackBerry during travel which allows her to view email if need be, but not always user friendly. I open and change the subject line to be more relevant so she doesn’t have to actually read the entire email to figure out what it is about I’ll use words in cap like CALL: ACTION,:DEADLINE:, APPROVAL:, DELIGATED:, etc. to start and Leave subject line as is, or update subject line (especially if there is a string of email associated with it). Save, and mark as unread. Then she can sort by subject, and all her “CALL” are together, etc. If it is a business newsletter, I usually use the acronym of the company name as the first word, since the senders may vary. Just need to communicate with your boss to try new things until you both find something that works, since not everyone works in the same style.

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Lori August 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Yes, there is a solution. If your company uses MS Outlook for your email you can take advantage of the colored flags. Assign a color to each topic in his email (High Priority, Low Priority, Personal, Budget, etc, etc). That way when he returns he can simply sort his inbox by flag and read the most important emails first. If he gets newsletters in his email, you can print those out and delete the email and he can go through the newsletters when he has time. If you are listed as a delegate, you may also be able to respond on his behalf if you are comfortable doing so or delegating things to his subordinates. Keep the workflow going while the boss is gone so it doesn’t cause a bottleneck when he gets back. Good luck.

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Michele August 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I have a While You Were Out Folder in Outlook with four sub folders (URGENT, Need Response, FYI, Low Priority) I then slide his email into those categories. When he gets back he then knows what needs his attention first.

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