Many of us will be beginning to think about the holiday season round about now and how great it will be to get away from the office for a few weeks. But what about what happens when we get back from our break and find our computer full of 600+ unread emails?
There are basically four possible ways of dealing with these emails. Three are effective and one is ineffective. Unfortunately the ineffective one is the one most often used!
Go through all the emails picking out the ones you feel like doing something about and leaving the rest “for later”. This is the least effective method and unfortunately the most common. It results in a backlog of email that may take weeks to clear.
Highlight the entire contents of the inbox and press the delete button. Highly effective! In fact an even better method is to write an Outlook rule before leaving on holiday which automatically deletes all email as it is received. However if you value your job it is probably a good idea to have an automatic reply to all emails saying you are away until such and such a date, and that emails should be resent on your return. You can give a colleague’s address for urgent matters.
Assuming you are not brave enough for Method Two, then the third method is to sit down for a few hours and clear the lot. This will probably take less time than you expect and will mean you can now start again with a clear in-box. This is very effective but requires a certain amount of will-power. It also depends on your having left sufficient time in your schedule to carry it out.
This is perhaps the most realistic method and still quite effective. You treat the email that has come in during the holiday as a backlog. Your first step is to move the lot into a Backlog folder. Then deal with new email as it comes in first, and chip away at the backlog second. This means you are straight back on top of new email, and the backlog will diminish quickly because it’s not being added to.
You can use exactly the same techniques for the paperwork, telephone calls and tasks that have piled up on your desk during your time off.
And it’s a really good idea to decide which method you’re going to use when you get back before you go on holiday!