• Do you sometimes struggle to find the emails you really need in your packed mailbox?
  • Have you ever lost information because it was in the personal mailbox of someone who left?
  • Have you had to trawl through years' worth of emails in response to a Subject Access Request?
  • Are you at risk of breaching Data Protection by holding emails about students or staff for longer than you should?

Poorly managed emails not only make it harder for you to find the information you need, they also risk the University being in breach of the Data Protection Act or losing important business information. It's absolutely vital to make sure you save your emails in the right place and delete them when no longer needed.

This page is filled with top tips and guidance. It's here to help you manage your emails in a way that is simple for you, increasing efficiency by getting rid of unnecessary emails, making sure business information is accessible by the right people, and keeping you and the University compliant with Data Protection legislation. It isn't here to make you clear your entire mailbox or delete emails that you still find useful.

Or try our Quick guide to managing your emails – this handy poster-style guidance provides useful tips on how to manage your emails, from first writing an email through to saving or deleting it. (It's also available in 3 different sizes, if you want to print it and pin it up in your office: A3A4 double-sidedA4 one-sided.)

Why is it important?

We send and receive so many emails in a day. It's easy to forget how many you have when they fall off your screen and out of sight. But every email is a University record, and your emails are your responsibility (see the Records Management Policy). It's important because:

  1. Data protection: It's a legal requirement to only keep the minimum amount of personal data and only for so long as it is necessary. If there are old emails languishing in your mailbox with personal data, then you may be in breach of our Data Protection Policy or Retention Schedule, putting the University at risk of a fine. (The Retention Schedule may help with how long something is 'necessary'.) 
    • Every individual has the right to make a Subject Access Request or Data Erasure Request. To comply, you may have to go through all your emails for references to that individual, providing copies for the former or deleting unnecessary data for the latter. As there are strict time limits, if you haven't kept up with email management, this can be very time-consuming. (Remember, it's an offence to delete personal data about an individual once they have made a Subject Access Request until it's complete.)
  2. University business: Records need to be accessible by all the right people, potentially over long periods of time. There may be legislative or regulatory reasons, or it may just be the needs of the University in order to carry out its business. If you have business decisions, teaching information, student details, or any other kind of record in email format, you need to make sure you save it in the right place - eg Wisdom, SharePoint, L drive, or a shared mailbox. Anywhere that it is going to be preserved and accessible.
  3. Your efficiency and sanity: Even with a brilliant folder system, a mailbox packed full of email becomes difficult to manage. It's harder to find what you need, whether by scrolling manually or using the search function. By making sure everything old and irrelevant is deleted and everything necessary is moved to another system, you'll find that your mailbox becomes much more manageable for your day-to-day work and finding all that useful information you know you've got in there.

Email is an ever-growing problem. If we don't take control, the amount of email that we hold will only expand, most of it useless or with outdated personal information. If that happens, the University will need to take more extreme action, like automatically deleting all emails older than a certain age. So it's really worth taking action now.

Top Tips for managing your mailbox

Try out these tips to clean up your mailbox and manage your emails effectively:

Don't forget that you'll only see emails up to a year old in Outlook, unless you click the 'Click here to view more on Microsoft Exchange' link at the bottom of each folder. You can also go to outlook.office.com to view all your emails in a web browser instead. (If you have trouble with this, try IT Support's guidance to fix it.)

*Note: If you have already received a Subject Access Request, you must not delete any emails until it is complete.*


Do you have any concerns or questions about these tips? Do you have an unanswered query about something in your own mailbox? Do you want more specialised advice about managing your emails? Get in touch with Records Management by emailing recordsmanagement@hud.ac.uk (or leave a voicemail at 2963); we're here to help.

Top Tips for sending the best emails

It's important to send good emails, as well as managing the ones you receive. Only emailing when necessary, writing clear emails, using attachments properly, and treating personal data with care will all help to manage your emails by reducing the amount and improving the quality.

Tip #1: Writing the best email

Email Security

Information Security offer guidance about creating passwords to encrypt your attachments, as well as being vigilant about phishing (and in poster form).

Extra training and guidance

Records Management, Data Protection and Information Security have produced full-text guidance outlining your email responsibilities and how you can meet them: Guidance on managing emails. (Don't forget the poster-style version of this guidance: Quick guide to managing your emails.)

There is also some email-related training available:

There may be local guidance for your own department, so take a look in your internal shared spaces or contact your Records Management Champions.

For any advice or assistance, contact Records Management at recordsmanagement@hud.ac.uk or leave a voicemail on 2963.