How to Deal with Email Cleanup After Coming Back from Vacation

Facing your inbox after vacation can be a nightmare — but it doesn't have to be! Here's how to tame the mess.

How to Deal with Email Cleanup After Coming Back from Vacation

The worst part of any vacation is the end – especially when it comes to dealing with chores at home, such as getting your vacation laundry done. Then there’s the digital cleanup as well, including going through your email inbox that you hopefully ignored while you were away.

Here are our top tips for dealing with your email cleanup after a vacation.

  1. Before you even leave, set up an auto-response message: Set the expectation out of the gate that you will be out of the office and won’t be replying to emails for a set period of time. This way, people are not wondering where you are or why you aren’t responding to their urgent messages.
  2. Create a folder specifically for emails you received on vacation: When your inbox is cluttered with hundreds or even thousands of emails, it can be difficult to determine what you need to truly sift through. This is why we recommend creating a specific “vacation folder” for all the emails you received while on vacation. This way, you can get them out of sight and out of mind and review them when you’re ready.
  3. Block out a couple of hours to review your vacation folder: Two to three hours (or hopefully less) should be plenty of time to review the emails you received while on vacation. Set aside this time, if you can, during your first morning back at work to get a fresh start to your first week back from your trip. The Pomodoro technique is a great tool for this, as it encourages periods of intense, focused work followed by quick breaks.
  4. For emails that require an urgent response, set up a template for responding to these: A simple template for responding to urgent emails can go a long way. For instance, consider a template that says something like: “Thanks for your message. I want to acknowledge that I received this, and that I will provide a response within the next few days as I regroup from my recent time off. Thank you!” Then, when you have the time to dedicate to in-depth responses, you can do so.
  5. Know that you can’t respond to all emails right away: While it’s important to respond to the most urgent of emails, know that you can’t respond to all of them right away – and that’s okay! You will get to them when you get to them. Plus, if you set up your auto-response message as recommended above, people will know that you may be delayed in your response to them.
  6. Take a deep breath: Relax! You will eventually make it through this task. And remember, there are options for you such as Mailstrom to make it through your inbox with ease.

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