After a vacation, nothing says “welcome back to reality” like a stuffed email inbox. To spare you the post-vacation blues that come with a jam-packed inbox, here are a few tips on how to conquer your email after vacation.
First tip: keep your auto-responder on. Whether or not you take an extra day off work to recover, you should spend your first day back pretending you’re still away. Keep an auto-responder on, and imply (or flatly lie) that you’re unreachable on your first day back. When you actually do reply to some emails today, no one is going to get mad that you were surprisingly responsive.
Second tip: clear out all the newsletters first. No time for newsletters when you’re conquering your inbox.
Third tip: send a quick reply to buy more time. Some emails require a long reply, or significant work before you can archive them. To lower your stress, and the stress of the people waiting for you, send a quick “Working on this!” email. Just one line to let them know that you’re still paying attention. This also helps you avoid stupid follow-up emails that are “just checking in!”
Fourth tip: snooze all non-urgent mail. Now that you’ve made some quick replies, use the “snooze” function on Gmail or Boomerang to hide those emails until a specified date. You can stagger them out, so just a few emails resurface each day, giving you some time to catch up.
Fifth tip: work top-down. By now you should have only the most important, urgent emails in your inbox. These are the emails that actually take some work. Instead of cherry-picking which ones to do, start from the top and work you’re way down. If an email seems intimidating to handle, ask yourself if you could better tackle it over the phone, or turn it into a note for an upcoming meeting.
Last tip: Once you’ve worked back to the date you left, stop. Give yourself a break and get back to the less-urgent emails later. READ MORE
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