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It’s that time of year, many of us are either on or planning a vacation. The perpetual question is whether or not to have an email free vacation.
We found that 80% said that dealing with the holiday email overload is one of the most stressful aspects of having a vacation. More stressful even than loosing your passport. Hence why they did not dare have an email detox. As stress and mental health rises up the corporate agenda, the reasons for disconnecting are ever more pressing to preserve our well-being.
Organisations have adopted many ways to lessen the holiday email overload effect from an ‘Out of Office’ messages asking you to re-send the email when the other person is back to adopting an email free vacation charter. But what if your company has no such policy? Here are the top ten actions you can take by yourself to have an email free vacation and reduce the holiday email overload mountain.
Pack the inbox properly
- De-clutter your inbox before going on leave. Clear out all the old emails and flag those needing your attention on return. Be ruthless, delete the low priority ones.
- Use rules to divert all new low priority emails eg newsletters and in reverse highlight potentially important ones.
- Set a safe and simple Out of Office message. Run it for a day before and after your vacation to allow time to chill out and then gear up smoothly.
- Switch off work email feed on your mobile device if you use only one mobile device. Otherwise leave the work one at home.
The email free vacation
- Establish a disaster recovery plan. In case of a real emergency leave a contact point.
- If you feel you must check your emails, allocate specific times eg end/beginning of the day.
Unpack the inbox on your return
- Spend the first half hour talking to colleagues to see what has been happened and hence which emails need you immediate attention.
- Attack the inbox. Block out one/two hours for the first few days to clear the important emails. Use time management techniques like Pomodoro or apps like Saent to stay focused.
- Utilise the email software functions to help save time, for instance creating templates of text for responding (Quick Parts in Outlook) and Quick Steps to move and flag emails for action later (remembering managing the sender’s expectation).
- Stop after three/four days. Move the rest out to a folder and leave them. By then if you still have not cleared all the really important emails it’s time to reflect on what are your real priorities. This is akin to declaring email bankruptcy which is used very successfully by many (to defuse the holiday email backlog) on the basis that if it is that important someone will soon re-email you.
Do you have any tips to share about dealing with the email free vacation challenge? There is a free copy of either Brilliant Email or Taking Control of Your Inbox for the best response. Email us your suggestions by 10 August.
Tags: Email Bankruptcy, email free vacation, email overload, holiday email overload, Mental Health and Email, Pomodoro, Saent, well being