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How to weed through your vacation email inbox – FAST!

Marketing Blog A-HA! SeriesGoing on vacation is the best. Coming back to hundreds of emails is the worst. 

We all know the feeling. You get back from vacation, start up your computer, open Outlook® and hold your breath until the dreaded number of unread emails is revealed. All the happiness that you gain while on vacation is suddenly gone and you wonder should I have taken off so many days? Was it worth it? 


Go and enjoy your time off but keep these tips in mind. Hopefully they will help lighten your email load upon return. 

Out of office message. Before you leave, set up an out of office reply on your email account. Believe it or not, this really helps reduce the number of emails. Once people receive your initial message saying you are out, they don’t typically send others while you’re away. Plus, it’s nice for them to know you are on vacation and not simply ignoring their emails 🙂

Time block. Set aside 3-4 hours the morning you return (if possible) to review emails and get caught up. You will need at least that amount of time to weed through your inbox, choose which emails to respond to, which to delete and which need to be added to a to-do list for future tasks.

Double filter approach. Use a logical system for reading the emails in a timely manner:

1. Filter by sender: Look through the sender groups and –

      • Delete all of the bounce backs from your “out of office replies.” These tend to come from e-newsletters and RSS feeds.
      • Weed through the industry emails – these tend to be the bulk of your inbox woes. Skim, delete or file away.

2. Filter by subject: After the “junk mail” is out of the mix, view the remaining emails by subject verses by date or sender.

      • Read emails by subject to see the overview of back and forth communications. 
      • Take one project (or subject) at a time. Each subject group will give you a good snapshot of what has happened chronologically while you were out. 

Remember, everyone experiences these back-to-work struggles after basking in vacation freedom. Hopefully these tips will help make the transition a smother one.  

Do you have any other tips that have helped you acclimate to work after vacation? Post a comment and let us know.


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