How to Catch Up on Emails after a Vacation

After being away from work for a while, whether it be from a vacation, a holiday break, or an illness, it can be tough to get back into the work mindset. This is especially true when dealing with a large pile of unattended emails. Once your inbox hits a certain level, it can be demoralizing to slog through what feels like a never-ending series of emails. To help alleviate the burden and make emails less of a problem when you get back into the office, here’s a few simple things that anyone can do to keep themselves organized and, more importantly, sane.

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Allow yourself some “Catch up time”
When you come back after a lengthy absence, it’s perfectly acceptable to set aside some time solely for you to “catch up.” Of course, communication is important here, but as long as you let others know that your first few hours back will be devoted to handling previous commitments, it should dramatically improve your productivity. After all, research has consistently found that mornings are when people are at their most productive.

If you’re willing to prepare a little ahead of your break, then it might be worth getting an email scheduling tool that you can include in an auto-reply message. By letting people know that you’re away, and then providing them with an easy method for future scheduling, you can afford yourself more time to get your bearings when you eventually return to the office. Scheduling apps like Boomerang for Gmail can save you a considerable amount of time, since you won’t have to immediately contact someone.

Divide and Conquer
Sometimes, the biggest limiting factor in productivity is human perception. If you believe that it will take a long time to accomplish something, then you’ll feel less invested in doing so. If you’re dealing with too many emails at once, try to set a more manageable goal. If you tell yourself that you can stop after responding to a smaller number of emails, such as ten, you’ll be more motivated to actually do so. As you go through them, make sure to monitor your organization habits and filter your emails accordingly for future reference. Create email tags to help with organization. You can even change the color on the tabs to visually help you. Use tools that your email provides to help you get through your inbox.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are plenty of applications out there specifically designed for this type of time management. Apps like Pomodoro One and Tomighty are both excellent desktop companions that can ensure you stay focused regardless of other distractions.

Stay Focused
Regardless of your methodology, the most important thing is to remember to stay focused. Don’t be afraid to delete unnecessary emails or hesitate to throw them in a new folder. Once you’ve started organizing your emails appropriately, you’ll see that it wasn’t as insurmountable as you previously thought. Hopefully, by following this guide, and installing the relevant apps, you’ll be able to enjoy your future vacations in peace and not worry about returning to an office with a full inbox.