Knowledge Base

Email Policy

We all get too much email. Because one email is so convenient to send, every year we suffer under the weight of millions of emails, many that never needed to be emails. 

 In an attempt to liberate my inbox and yours, I adhere to the following policies and ask you to do the same: 

  1.  Never send anything sensitive over email. 
  2.  Use the appropriate medium. 
  3.  Send good email. 
  4.  Plan 

 Here they are in more depth: 

1. Never send anything sensitive over email. 

Email is an insecure means of messaging, and I do not assume that anything sent over email is private or confidential. The technology was not built to be secure, and even if it was, most of my work is for institutions with open records policies. If you have sensitive information to submit, please do so through other means. 

2. Use the appropriate medium. 

Email is great for a couple of things:

  • Being the digital version of a written letter (catching up with colleagues and friends)
  • providing person-specific information
  • one-off questions 

It is a poor substitute for everything else. 

One of the ways we can combat this is to use the appropriate medium or tools for conveying information. In my classes, I provide announcements via a Bulletin Board setup (such as in Microsoft Teams or Blackboard's Announcements) rather than through a Bulletin setup (i.e., email). Generally, if information will be used by multiple people, I place it online somewhere, and link it to

If an extended conversation is needed, I open my calendar at This program (Calendly) allows meetings primarily between 9:00 and 17:00 (CST) on weekdays, and doesn't allow booking meetings closer than 6 hours out (e.g., if it's 9:00, the earliest you can book is 15:00). For urgent meetings, or meetings that need to occur outside of 9:00-17:00, contact me directly. 

3. Send good email.

A good email is one that is relevant, easy to parse, and easy to respond to. Many colleges ask professors to have a 24- or 48-hour turnaround time for email. I avoid this, because email is a non-prioritized system. Urgent questions come in with the same priority as sandwich order receipts and questions that have been asked and answered elsewhere. 

I encourage my students to ask questions, but email doesn't work the same way as Google: Don't send me an email just because you've thought of a question. Before you send an email, exhaust the resources you know about. If you've looked for an answer and can't find it, let me know where you've looked (in case it's somewhere else, and I can put the info where it makes sense). 

Bad email: whats the reading this week
Good email: I looked for the assignment on Blackboard, but it's not posted--do we have a reading this week? 

When composing your email, give me the facts and things to respond to--Matt Might has a great article on this. Keep in mind that we're all busy, and we all have lots on our plate. In my life, I have my NDSU work, my VCSU work, my Professional Composer work, and my NoteForge/Software work, all of which is somewhat compartmentalized. Your work likely looks similar. Simple, easy-to-read, easy-to-respond-to email will help us all spend more time doing what matters--Art. 

4. Plan 

Most of my work involves long-term planning, and my process isn't given to interrupt-driven work. I usually try to plan at least two months in advance, with some flexibility for unavoidable emergencies. For this reason, I usually process email in bulk during weekly planning sessions.

Kyle Vanderburg