The thought of that ominous post-vacation inbox is what keeps a large number of employees from using their vacation days. In fact, according to research by Project: Time Off, a whopping 37% of employees say that they don’t take vacation because they fear that they would return to a “mountain of work.” Your post-vacation workload shouldn’t deter you, though. Before you took time off, you set yourself up for a stress-free vacation so your workload should be manageable. But what about your inbox? Here are three tips to help you tackle that post-vacation inbox with the fewest number of headaches.
1) Set rules for subscription emails
According to research done by The Radicati Group, the average employee receives 123 business emails per day. Of those 123, 14 are spam or “graymail,” which are newsletters or notifications that you may have signed up for at one point, but no longer wish to receive. That’s close to 100 emails that you don’t need to read, or even deal with, right away. Before you leave for your vacation, set up a few automatic rules for your inbox that send those spam and graymail messages directly to a separate folder as soon as they pass through your email server’s firewall. When you get back to the office, those newsletters that you never get around to reading anyway will still be there, but your inbox itself will be about 100 messages lighter.
2) Schedule time
Things can be a little hectic when you first come back from vacation, which can make it hard for you to focus on and tackle any one project. Making your inbox a priority, though, will help you ease back into the workweek and catch up on what’s been going on while you were out. So schedule an hour or two on your first day back, close your door (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and dive into your inbox. If we go with The Radicati Group’s numbers, you’ll have approximately 515 emails to sort through (excluding those spam messages you have already set aside). You can make decent headway on those 515 emails if you spend a couple of focused, uninterrupted hours working through them.
3) Start from the top
Once you’ve scheduled your “inbox time,” it’s time to talk inbox strategy. It’s tempting to start with the oldest emails first, but try to resist. Beginning with the newest emails means that the things that are the most important TODAY get handled today. Besides, the likelihood is that someone else has already handled those “urgent” emails from a week ago anyway.
You don’t have to get everything done in one day, but utilizing these tips will help you get there faster than you got that vacation sunburn.