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Coping with Email after a holiday

Yes, it’s that time of year again when we all jet off to sun ourselves and get away from the daiy grind for a precious few days.

I’ve recently gone back to work after a week off and getting back to the office is always a chore – especially when you have an inbox bursting with emails all begging for your attention. I’ve written before about how I manage to keep my inbox empty but it’s always a bit of a nightmare on the return back to the office to see all of your hard work down the drain.

So, how do you cope with it? Here’s a few simple tips to help you regain control of your inbox:

  • Tell people you’re going away before you go – That way they know you’re
    not going to be contactable so won’t bother or try and chase up emails
    they sent even though you can’t reply
  • Set up an out of office auto reply – Ask people to contact another member of staff with urgent enquiries. Also, if people realise you’re away then they’re less likely to email you again – bonus!
  • Ask your co-workers to keep an eye on your email – You can set a shared account or just allow them access to your machine (depending on your company’s security policy). Ask them to sort out anything that can be handled quickly. Anything they’ve done for you can be dumped in a folder to move it out of your inbox.
  • Batch process all at once – Set aside the whole morning on your return to work (or day if needed) and go through everything. If you pick at the pile of emails, you’ll work slower, be distracted and also demotivated by the thought that you have still “that lot” to wade through.
  • Filter and order the emails – Order them by subject (or conversation if your software allows) so you can read related emails altogether.
  • Set up rules, filters and labels/Filters – Move emails into folders on a per-project basis, flag emails that you’re CC’d in on as you know they’re not as important so that you can concentrate on the major items that need your attention.

Hopefully the above should be enough to help you wade through the mass of mails in your inbox on your return. But whatever happens, don’t let the though of all of that email ruin your holiday!

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