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Managing E-mail - Exploring Patterns

Managing E-mail

The e-mail inbox.

I’m often asked if there is a way to manage the large volume of e-mail that arrives every day. I know the question often comes up during the summer season when people dread the large number of e-mail messages waiting in their e-mail box when they get back from holidays. Here are a few tricks to consider as you deal with the challenge of e-mail.

  1. Tell people early if you are going to be away. That allows people to plan ahead so they make sure you have time to answer their questions well before the final day you are in the office.
  2. Make a decision about what you will do with e-mail when you are away. Are you going to answer messages, not answer messages, ask someone to answer messages, etc.? It is important to let people know what you will with e-mail when it arrives when you are away.
  3. If you take your smart phone with you, turn off the chimes, bells or any other alerts. Take a few minutes, two or three days in advance of your departure, to change the settings so your smart phone will not sound or alarm when you are away on your vacation.
  4. When you return from vacation, take the first two days to listen to what has happened while you away. Balance the time between answering the e-mail and spending time with staff and colleagues. Mixing up your e-mail and phone conversations can make the process of “catching up” fun and engaging.
  5. When sifting through large stacks of e-mail, try to sort out what needs to be done now, what can wait and what can be passed on to anther colleague. “Now- Wait – Ask” can be a simple rule to help quickly sort out what really needs to done quickly upon your return.

Vacation is a great time to take break, catch your breath and step out of the pace of the workplace. Consider “re-entry” with your e-mail as an opportunity to see how the rest of the world spent their time when you were away. Careful attention to planning ahead, managing e-mail while you are away coupled with a retry plan can help take the stress out of managing your e-mail.

Have a great vacation!