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Holiday email nightmares

Take a deep breath and open your inbox ...

Posted by Jacqui Frost on 26/07/2011

The schools have broken up and it is now the summer holidays, though to be honest, with the weather of late it seems like we should be preparing for the schools going back doesn't it? The lead up to a holiday is always filled with anticipation and excitement but the same is rarely said about the return to work!

happy to be home? Just wait until you open your inbox!

happy to be home? Just wait until you open your inbox!

Reality hits hard on the first morning back doesn't it? Coming back to an inbox full of what seems like a million emails. And if you're anything like me, you never feel truly back in control until you have sorted through them all and reduced them to a bare minimum.

Many hours can be wasted working through them and deciding which are important and need action straight away. And sometimes you don't spot the important ones quickly enough, getting side tracked with inconsequential issues.

So here are my tips for easing the load:

  1. Whichever email program you use, learn how to set up filters and rules. Let the filing process begin without you. You can simply arrange for all new emails to be put into a separate folder so they don't get mixed up with those that you are still dealing with from before you go. Or if you know who is likely to contact you with priority issues set up a rule to filter those into a priority file!

  2. There is one simple way to ensure that the most pressing matters are at the top of the inbox. When you set up your out of office telling people the dates you are away, ask them to resend anything important the day before you return so you can action them straight away. This will allow you to spot the most pressing emails that need action without having to worry about those invitations to events that happened whilst you were away. And if they fail to resend the email it's probably because the crisis has passed or it is simply no longer at the top of their list, meaning it doesn't need to be at the top of yours.

  3. Find someone you trust and who knows your business well, a business partner or colleague works best. Give them access to your email and ask them to check it a couple of times a week, or once a day if they can manage it. This could save you hours on your return if they simply delete/read the non essentials.

  4. If you do have someone who can fight the fires in your absence make sure that your out of office contains their contact details, and ask them to email you on the morning of your return so that you know which issues have been dealt with. This will save you repeating work unnecessarily or chasing your tail!

  5. Of course if you have a Virtual PA you can forward them your emails and return safe in the knowledge that replies will have been sent, appointments booked and problems solved in your absence.

I hope you enjoy your holidays and that your first day back isn't spent trawling through all those emails! And, of course, if The Office Genie can help, then do let us know ;)

Be magical ...


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