Home to some of the best undergraduate and graduate architecture programs in the country, the University of Arizona School of Architecture needed to improve communications between staff, faculty, and students. They looked to “build” the perfect solution with SaneBox.
Struggling to build the right system
The University of Arizona School of Architecture deals with a high-volume of daily emails. Between faculty, staff, University representatives, prospective and current students, messages were coming in around the clock – and because the team had no system in place to manage the influx of emails, they were spending hours each day trying to keep up with their inboxes.
“Sorting, reading, and sending emails is such a time-consuming and laborious task – [and it’] becoming more so everyday,” says Patti Van Leer, Assistant to the Director. “Without a ‘system,’ electronic communication can become an actual detriment to productivity.”
Van Leer also found communicating with students over email to be a challenge. “Students… are so over email and it’s difficult to communicate with them effectively,” says Van Leer. “They prefer to text, which the University hasn’t embraced in such a way that we can really use it as a daily communication tool.”
Searching for a solution
Van Leer knew the way her team was managing email wasn’t sustainable in the long-term. She needed to find a way to better manage internal communications, to get rid of non-urgent emails so critical messages didn’t get lost in the shuffle, and to make sure students were responding to critical emails regarding their program.
After exploring potential solutions, the Director of the School of Architecture stumbled on a free webinar on email management and invited Van Leer to attend. It was during that webinar that Van Leer found a potential solution to her team’s email problems: SaneBox.
Laying the foundation with SaneBox
Van Leer implemented SaneBox on her own inbox to explore the different features and see how SaneBox might be able to help her team take back control of their inboxes, increase productivity, and better manage communications between students, faculty, and staff. She was immediately impressed.
“[SaneBox] helps keep my mind clear for actually doing things beside screwing around with email all day,” says Van Leer. “It allows me to separate the “wheat from the chaff” very quickly and easily – usually 10 minutes or so every morning.”
One feature that Van Leer found particularly helpful was SaneBlackHole. When you receive an email you don’t want in your inbox (like social media notifications or newsletters), you drag and drop it into the SaneBlackHole folder. Once an email is in the SaneBlackHole folder, all future communications will go immediately to trash instead of crowding your inbox with unnecessary messages.
“We no longer have to treat emails equally,” says Van Leer. “We can banish certain emails directly to the ‘BlackHole’ without ever ‘touching’ them.”
In addition to clearing the clutter from her inbox, Van Leer also found SaneBox to be a great organizational tool. By using different SaneBox folders to sort and manage tasks based on urgency, Van Leer was able to stay on top of projects and make sure nothing fell through the cracks.
“[My] inbox, SaneTomorrow, SaneNextWeek, and SaneLater are essentially my task list, structured by urgency, and Sane NoReplies ensures that I don’t let the ball drop once I’ve tasked others,” says Van Leer. “It’s an amazing system.”
The SaneNoReplies feature also proved to be a helpful tool for managing student communications. Because the SaneNoReplies folders track emails that haven’t received a response, Van Leer was able to track which students hadn’t replied to critical communications and follow up accordingly.
Building on SaneBox success with the rest of the team
Once Van Leer realized how effective SaneBox was at helping her take back control over her inbox, she started rolling out the tool to other team members – and once the team was on board and using SaneBox to manage their email, they started seeing major changes.
“Customizing our individual SaneBoxes means we spend less time managing email,” says Van Leer. “Those of us who have fully embraced it can’t imagine working without it.”
Van Leer plans to implement SaneBox with the entire team in the upcoming months, but for now, she’s enjoying the positive change the tool has had on her relationship with her inbox.
“I feel I can now control email rather than the other way around,” says Van Leer.
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