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Good Tips? In Autumn, We Got 'Em


Halloween Email Deleting Party

A husky dog sitting next to a jack-o-lantern baying at the moon with bats in the sky text halloween email deleting partyManaging email can be scary! Afraid to delete a substantive record past retention? Scared of that item count steadily rising? Terrifyingly full inbox? Attend the Halloween Email Deleting Party hosted by Lynn and Emily, the RMS ROT Squad! Get tips and tricks to keep the email monster at bay. Even if we can’t provide garlic wreaths—and to our dismay, there’s no worktag for silver bullets—you’re guaranteed to walk away with a lighter inbox and new skills. Already booked? Check out our recorded deleting party.

When: October 31 at 2:00pm

Where: Zoom

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Trivia question of the month

A computer with bat wingsIt is the season to tell tales of fright and terror. Here at RMS headquarters we love a good spooky story, but we usually prefer them to be entirely fictional. Unfortunately, inadequate records management can lead to all kinds of real-life horror scenarios. However, records management doesn't have to be scary, especially if you learn the rules and stick to them.

Zombies, werewolves, and vampires - just like records - become a lot less scary when you have the knowledge and tools to deal with them. When it comes to disposition, most people know that with zombies you aim for the head, with vampires you aim for the heart. And then you have tools like the silver bullet, the wooden stake, the occasional wreath of garlic. Once the retention period for records has ended, to ensure they don’t turn into zombies, they need to be disposed of according to their values and contents. Just like when disposing of monsters, there are different ways to dispose of records.

How many disposition methods are there and what are they? 

  1. 2 - Delete, Transfer
  2. 4 - Shred, Recycle, Delete, Transfer
  3. 3 - Shred, Delete, Transfer
  4. None - Certain records are kept forever and have no disposition method.

Want to challenge your co-workers? Feel free to forward this email to them and see if they know the answer. Scroll down to see the answer below…

Dramatic emails aren't forever emails

Dear Professor FilePlan,

Sometimes I receive dramatic emails from students. These include unsolicited information about personal mental health issues, complaints, conflicts between students and T.A.s, general criticisms of university policies. It’s hard to tell what I should keep or not and for how long.

My coworker said anything so interesting should never be deleted, but that doesn’t seem right. Can you help me sort this out?

Skeptical in Seattle

Dear Skeptical in Seattle,

You are correct that emails like that should not be kept forever. Holding onto sensitive, personal information longer than the legal retention can go against the individual’s right to be forgotten. If that is a new concept for you, check out the UW Privacy Office website to learn more. Emails like the types that you describe fall under what we call, “Student Emails/Correspondence with Students—Substantive”, and only need to be retained for one year after the student leaves the UW. Put those emails into a folder by student name, and then once they are inactive or have graduated, then label it with the year that it can be deleted. For example: “Husky_Holly_DELETE IN 2024”.

If the situation escalates to become part of an investigation, then the records may have a longer retention based on other records series, which can include:

Let me know if you have any questions! Happy to also talk about organizing specific emails.

Professor FilePlan

If you have a question for our resident files management expert, email

Workday notification emails

Is your UW Gmail or Outlook inbox being flooded by automated notifications from Workday? Maybe you are a supervisor being flooded with absence requests from employees. Or maybe with Finance Transformation you have been assigned a security role in Workday Finance and receive countless automated reminders on financial tasks. No matter the reason, consider making a rule to filter the emails you receive from Workday to better manage your inbox.

Any automated email from Workday is transitory in nature, since all the vital information is captured in the Workday system. As a result, any email from Workday can be deleted as soon as the reference purpose has been served. But how you define that reference purpose will be based on your own individual workflows and responsibilities. If you’re someone who accesses Workday every single day and never look at the countless emails flooding your email inbox, think about creating a rule that will send all emails from to the deleted items folder.

However, if you rely on emails being sent to your inbox as a reminder to take an action (approve a leave request, complete an award task, upload a supporting document), then perhaps the rule could automatically add a To-Do flag to the email or could filter it to a dedicated folder of To-Do Tasks. Rules can be created based on sender, text in the subject line or body, and other many factors. Refer to our resource on Outlook Rules or contact our office for more tips on how to make your Workday experience more efficient.

Trivia Answer: b. 4 – Shred, Recycle, Delete, Transfer.

To learn more about the different disposition methods and when to put records on destruction hold, you can check out our resource about destroying records.

Like John Seward calling on Professor Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we understand that sometimes the bravest heroes need to call in the experts. That’s why we have the ROT Squad to help you when things seem particularly dire.

Click here to watch the video on this new University-wide initiative.


Barbara Benson

Emily Lemieux

Lynn O'Shea

Sean Whitney

Laetitia Rhodes Kaiser