This is a question I was recently asked by one of my 5 Choices participants. We all love to take a vacation but what we dread is opening our inbox to see a ton of emails waiting there when we return. So what can we do to help manage that?
Here are some tips I wanted to share and am keen to hear any you may have!
1. Create an impactful and informative out of office message that helps manage the gravel for you. Be specific about your return date and what you want people to do in your absence. Consider who could help with any urgent issues while you are away and be clear about what the sender should do while you are out of office. For non-urgent issues, consider stating that on your return you will reply to any client requests or urgent business issues. For any non-urgent emails, please speak to a colleague or contact you again on your return. This makes it clear that you won’t be responding to every email when you get back.
2. Before you go on vacation, clear your inbox and ensure that any tasks on your master task list are scheduled so that you try to avoid overloading yourself on the first couple of days when you are back in the office.
3. Set up your emails so that you are using color to highlight those important stakeholders’ emails or clients’ emails so that they stand out in your inbox.
4. Block out two large slots in your diary to tackle your emails on your first day back at work, or consider extending your return to work date so that it is one day after your actual return; this will give you an extra day to catch up before people are expecting a reply.
5. When returning to work to action your emails, consider doing this while working offline so you don’t get interrupted by more gravel.
6. If a non-client email is older than 2 weeks old, consider moving it into an archive folder and allocating some specific time to review your archive emails later in the week.
7. Start at the top of your email inbox and work down. Consider filtering by topic so you can see any email chains that have had already been responded to.
If you have any more tips you want to add please let me know!