The word “email” can invoke stress at the worst of times, especially when you’re heading back to the office after a long vacation. Managing large amounts of email can be challenging, but there are some tips and tricks for getting it done and out of the way by using some creative time management.

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First of all, don’t let email ruin your vacation. It’s important to take care of yourself and enjoy a break away from your business or your job. Don’t waste your entire vacation checking your email. This post will go over some tips and tricks for how to avoid coming back to thousands of emails.

Secondly, be sure to plan a day in your calendar just for catching up at work upon your return. Don’t plan on tackling a big meeting or project as soon as you get to your desk. It takes most people between 2 hours and half of a work day just to get through emails inbox after they’ve been gone. After your catch-up day, you can start tackling your to-do list.

Let’s go over some steps for setting yourself up for success before you go on vacation. Consider having an assistant or a designated person at work check your email while you’re gone. If you’re not okay with that, that’s okay, and there’s other options. For example, set an away auto response so people who email you while you’re on vacation know you’re not just ignoring them. This helps people have the right expectations for when they will hear back from you. If it takes you a while to get back to people even after your return, they’ll know you’re working on getting back to them as soon as you can.

You can mention in the auto response that your clients or customers can contact a designated person at your office if they need a response immediately while you’re on vacation. Before leaving, you can also set up email filters that will automatically send specific emails into unique folders, so you aren’t as overwhelmed when you return to your inbox.

Now, how are you going to tackle that inbox of emails? Remember to prioritize! In today’s digital world, sometimes it feels like we are bombarded with emails. You may be coming back to an inbox of hundreds of them. Reply to the most important emails first and then go from there. You can refer to the folders you set up before you left. Later, when you get back to the people you skipped, let them know they’re on your radar and are important to you.

Responding to your emails can also go faster if you used canned emails. These are ready-to-go emails that you can set up in your email provider. This way, you don’t have to type out the same email over and over if you need to send similar responses to different people. Look for this feature in your email settings.

It’s worth saying again, don’t let your email inbox ruin your vacation. Many people experience email stress while they are trying to relax. You can change your notification settings in your email, so you’ll receive fewer notifications of new emails in your inbox. Try setting up a specific time (a couple hours in the morning, for example) to check email while you’re on vacation, so you’ll be sure to rest and relax while you can! After all, that’s what vacation is for.

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