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The Results Curve: How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time

Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

How do you deal with hundreds of e-mails in your inbox right after a vacation?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, May 31, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

vacation e-mailMany people tell me that they dread coming back to work after having taken a few days off or gone on vacation because of e-mail! If you have taken advantage of the holiday weekend and took some extra days off, you may soon experience the same challenge. I experienced this previously when I found 1200 message in my inbox after a vacation, and here is how I dealt with them, applying many of the tips and techniques we teach in the Accomplishing More With Less methodology:

  • Anything that resembled spam, subscriptions, news, group messages, sports tickets offers, and the like, got deleted. These amounted to several hundred messages.
  • FYI e-mails that don’t require an action got scanned quickly and moved into the Catch-All folder. This is the folder where unimportant messages are kept and referred to only on an as needed basis.
  • Messages that can be answered quickly, got answered right then. Once answered, they got dragged into the Catch-All folder as well.
  • Messages that required further action (or thinking) got assigned the red category**. Those that are time sensitive, got also assigned a reminder with the desired dates and times.
  • Remaining messages, which are the not-so-urgent messages, got assigned the blue category** and occasionally got assigned reminders with the desired dates and times.

Suddenly, a daunting inbox got transformed into an organized list of messages with red and blue categorise, and with the appropriate reminders for those that are time sensitive. The job is not done. The next task is to set some time aside, preferably by the end of the day, to focus on the red messages and handle these in a timely manner.

To make this work, make sure you budget a couple of hours when you come back (reserve this time on your calendar before you go on vacation) to sort through your messages systematically as described above! Remember to take a break every 40 minutes and move so you stay energized and complete this task successfully.

Afraid about being off e-mail during vacations or holidays? Fear no more. 

Additional Resources

Topics: time management tips, email management