Will you enjoy a digital detox over Christmas and switch off from work emails? If ever there was a time of year to have quality time with family and friends, it’s Christmas. Nonetheless, many people find it hard not to check their work emails. They feel someone expects them to be reading emails even on Christmas Day. But do they? Or is it just a cover-up for some form of email addiction, fear of missing out, personal inadequacy, etc.
We have written many times before about the importance of having an email free vacation. A full digital detox would involve switching off from all digital devices. However, the Christmas period is probable one of those times when you will want to use digital media (eg WhatsApp, FaceTime etc) to contact family and friends who are not going to be with you. That does not mean you should also take a quick peak at work-related emails and social media posts. Make the Christmas break a time to re-balance the work-life balance and have quality time with those you care about and who really care about your well-being.
Here are five top tips to enable you to safely switch-off from work related emails, relax and enjoy at least a partial digital detox.
Remember too that this is a high risk time for cyber attacks Click here to top tips on how to improve your defence to potential cyber attacks especially at home.
Reducing the vacation email overload is one reason why many business people refuse to switch off during their holiday. Nonetheless, all the research indicates that switching off from business email when on vacation improves your productivity and well-being.There are many ways to reduce and manage the vacation email overload. This is a topic we have written about on several occasions. Here are five top tips for 2019.
Before you go
1) Go for inbox zero before you go on vacation. Make time the week before your vacation to create a clean inbox. Sort by person/project etc then use conversation mode to batch together all the email threads. Flag any which need your attention on your return. Then either delete the ones you really don’t need or move them out to a folder. Alternatively archive the lot (if you don’t have an automatic archiving system).
2) Treat your inbox as an information highway. Only let the really important emails into your inbox. As you clean the inbox, note the low priority emails you really do not need. Write rules to automatically folder them as they arrive (eg newsletters, cc’d emails, Out of Office messages etc.). Thus, keeping them out of the fast lane going directly into your inbox. Click here if you need help writing rules.
3) Set a simple clear Out of Message. Give the minimum of information to preying eyes (either cyber criminals or the competition). Just say you are out of the office with limited access to your email. Provide a point of contact for any urgent matters (having checked that the person is both available and happy to buddy up for you).
Set the OOO for one day before you go and two after your return. This gives you time to clear up and catch up and look supper efficient on your return!
On your return
4) Triage the inbox to identify the really important emails. Again, sort by person/project and use the conversation view to group the threads. Deal with the important emails which need your attention. Use the Pomodoro technique to deal with these in batches.
Accept that not all emails either need or warrant a reply. Once you’ve dealt with the essential ones, move the rest out into a holding (pending) folder. Check these at your leisure during the week. Then be ruthless, delete all the other emails which you do not need (eg conversations, cc’d emails). If they are important the sender will soon re-email you.
5) Create templates of text and automation reply quickly. If you find several emails need similar words in the reply (eg a holding response) create templates of text to help you save time retyping the same text. Click here to see how to use Quick Parts in Outlook. For Outlook users create a Quick Step for emails which need a repeat action, eg sending invoice to finance.
If you find these tips useful don’t forget there are many more like this on the Mesmo Consultancy Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Why not join us on or both one of these social media platforms. Also, there is Mesmo Consultancy’s Smart Email Management Workshop. Either click here or call us for more information.
How many emails do you currently have in your inbox? More than three screen’s full? That is too many and might be an indication of email overload. Your inbox should be your ‘work in progress’ folder. It is not just a general dumping ground rather like either the spare room or ‘round to it’ folder.
A clean inbox is a win-win way to reduce email overload related stress because it is easier to:
Hence you can save time dealing with your (and the boss’s) inbox and therefore improve your performance and well-being. Here are five tips to help you clean up your inbox ready for the Easter break and subsequently reduce email overload on your return. They do not form a sequence, rather they are individual tips; you can of course either use them all or just choose which suit you best.
If you are having time off, remember to set an Out of Office message which reduces the risk of email borne cyber crime and improves compliance to to the GDPR. And when all else fails you could always declare email bankruptcy.
Still need help with email management to reduce email overload? Call us now to ask about Mesmo Consultancy’s Smart Email Management workshops and coaching programmes.
How much do you reveal in your Out-of-Office message and what is the risk from it of a cyber attack and breaching GDPR. Out of Office messages are the easy back door for a cyber attack. Many burglars troll out of office messages. It would not take a cyber criminal ten minutes to find out where you live and bingo – burglary. Moreover too much detail and you risk breaching the GDPR.
Of the 135 recent Out-of-Office Message only half were safe and secure and limited the risk of an email generated cyber attack.
The remaining 49% of messages were secure and limited the scope for either an email borne cyber attack or breach of confidentiality and hence GDPR.
What makes a good safe and secure Out-of-Office message? Indeed why bother to pay attention to what your message says?
A simple message is best. ‘Simply’ states that you are not in the office and gives one point of contact in the event of an emergency.
Any more (eg you are on holiday, other projects you are handling etc) and you leave yourself and the organisation open to a breach of security and confidentiality.
Every email from you conveys and creates an image about you in the recipient’s mind. A careless, frivolous message can convey a sloppy, unprofessional image of you and a sloppy organisation.
Does your organisation provide adequate guidelines on the use of Out-of-Office messages? If so what?
Managing the vacation email overload possess the perennial dilemma of whether or to put your inbox on vacation too. This article looks at how to reduce the vacation email overload. it reviews the pros and cons and of having an inbox vacation. It looks at ways to manage the post vacation email overload. For example, how to pack your inbox properly so that you don’t drown in an email tsunami on your return. It shows you how to have a really email free vacation, setting a safe Out of Office Message what to do if you feel you really must log-in whilst away.
Published in Executive Secretary Magazine March 2017