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Drowning in emails after the holidays?

By Julie Standfield

Many of us have 24 hour access to work emails via a smartphone and have probably been checking them every day over the holidays, to prevent the horror of coming back to work to 500+ emails that have built up over the Christmas break. If this is you, do you have any idea of how many emails you have received and dealt with?

One of my golden rules to only to read and answer work emails in work time.  Some people will find this stressful and shocking to even suggest! However, it does ring-fence the time and place in which I deal with work related emails, and it also allows me to see and track just how many emails I have received in that period.

Today, my first day back, I logged on to find 289 emails. After the initial groan, I started to file these into three sub-categories:

1. Real and important, needs action

2. Reading only – file for ‘whenever’

3. Not quite spam, political ‘CC’ or ‘BCC’ and bin immediately

Only 37 emails ended up in the ‘1’ sub-category, which then allowed me to prioritise, read and action and as a result, I am now nearly finished and up straight with these just four hours after logging on.  The 76 that ended up in sub-category ‘2’ will make for lighter reading over the next few days and the remaining 176 in sub-category ‘3’ have just been binned, without reading. I have also clicked the ‘unsubscribe’ button on those emails that I never read but keep receiving, for websites I signed up to for one thing, 2 or 3 years ago and have never used since.

I have also invested 20 minutes into setting up ‘rules’ in Outlook that will automatically categorise some of my future emails into these folders without me ever having to touch them.  This isn’t possible for 100% of emails, but even if it reduces my effort by 20%, I will have regained over an hour per day in wasted time.

What could you do with an extra hour per day?

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