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Topics: Communications Management, Portfolio Management
Managing high volume of emails
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I am currently responsible for managing multiple portfolios, which involves massive amounts of email traffic on several subjects simultaneously. I try to budget my time to review them periodically, rather than get caught in the trap of trying to respond to each as they come in.

The problem this has created is that I get so many threads of discussion, that it becomes difficult to follow individual subjects. I've been considering rules in Outlook to move everything to folders, and review each folder separately. I'm finding that has some issues also.

Doe anyone have other tips for how to manage the constant flood of email traffic?
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Keith, have found that often the team wants to do respond all's to every thread. Have to consider how much info you really need to make decisions. If you can train your subordinates to send you the key info, vice adding you to every thread, even those that are just internal coordination between them, should help lower the spam.

Have the same issue of folks sending me everything....
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Hi Keith,

Here’s what would be obvious to me (and probably something you have already done):

You could create “group email” accounts for each portfolio and require that all e-mails on a given portfolio subject also include a CC to the correlative group email account. Then you can build a rule to move those e-mails to a separate folder. Then turn on the “conversation” view so that particular threads of conversations (governed by the subject) are hierarchically grouped together.

Using this type of approach, you will have your emails grouped by portfolio, then by conversation thread, allowing you to read the most recent at the top of the conversation thread and then simply scroll down a single e-mail to read the history. You can then mark-as-read the rest of the e-mails in that conversation thread as you would have already gleamed the content.

On a lighter note (since you are almost a VP), why not have yourself removed from the “noisy e-mails” and have one of your leads for each portfolio send you those that require your attention :)
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If that is affecting your work organization, maybe if you take some time to analyse from where come the important and urgent emails, Using an important and urgent matrix to decide which subjects are important or urgent, and choose a part of the morning to respond this emails, the emails from subjects that are not important not urgent you could give a automatically reply and redirect that emails to a team member capable to answer to them, try to delegate that task. I'm guessing since I do not know your team or your work framework.
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Perhaps use of a persistent chat tool such as Slack or MS Teams might reduce the volume of discussion threads leaving email for a more focused set of communication needs.
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One of my POs solved this problem by never checking his email.
Eventually, we all learned to get his attention in other ways.
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I receive probably a hundred emails a day. I solved this issue by creating folders for every client broken down by project number and then created rules for certain emails that didn't need my response but that I did need to reference back to. The emails that I need to look at I keep in my inbox. I look at email 3 times a day morning, noon and before I leave and occasionally before bed. during those times I prioritize them and respond to the fires first. I do a quick glance at all of them to quickly prioritize them, I flag them if they must be dealt with today. I keep my notebook in front of me at all times and those that I must respond to at various times through the week I put a note in that notebook for followup and the subject matter. I can't have things fall through the cracks so I have to be militant about it. Emails provide a document trail if things go south so I actually prefer it to chat platforms, and a phone call at an inopportune time can throw me off schedule so email is the most effective form of communication for me in this role.
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Keith

I am in the same situation as you are. However, I read all emails as they come and try to respond as soon as I can. I have folders, I move e-mails manually.

As for your issue, there is an option in outlook if I am not mistaken that can organize threads together called Focused Inbox, check it out.

Hope this helps.

RK
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On every project the first thing I always do is to establish email communication rules and the most important of those is the subject. Having a standardized subject line helps a lot in managing multiple projects. So typically the subject would start with the unique identifier i.e. client name, project code ect. followed by a topic i.e. schedule, minutes and then anything else descriptive the sender wants to add. The next rule is the To and CC. Anything where I'm in the To means it is FYA and in the CC it means it is FYI. Setting up rules to now manage these emails like setting flags or moving to subfolders becomes much easier. The subject line is your best friend when managing emails.
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I am in the same situation relating emails because our teams are virtual highly distributed teams. I am all day connect to outlook and skype and I answer the emails like I am into a conversation face-to-face. What I tried to say I review and answer the email "on line" instead of waiting time or take them periodically. I keep them in folders doing that manually because my need.
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Keith, managing mails is all together different ball game. Use inbuilt MS Outlook features to segregate mails based on priority and severity. You can not set a single rule for all programs/ projects.
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