It can be overwhelming to return from even a short vacation to an overflowing inbox. I brace myself before checking my email. How do you deal with the overflow upon your return? Do you stem the flood by checking and responding to messages during the holiday?
First off, you have already set an out of office message to tell people that you are away and will reply when you return to work. So you have set expectations that it will take a while before they get a response from you. Well done!
Next, give yourself one whole day to reply to your messages and one whole week to complete your action items.
Just as you can’t unload, unpack, do your laundry, prepare a meal and settle back home all at once, you can’t reply to all your messages and check of your to-dos in an hour.
Some lessons learned:
1. Don’t schedule an early morning meeting on your first day back at the office.
2. Give yourself at least half a day to sort through your emails.
3. Read the most recent emails first because some problems/issues could have been resolved by others.
4. Delete all unnecessary emails – the longer you’ve been away, the more ruthless you should be.
5. Prioritize responses needed today, tomorrow, this week, and next week.
Finally, the best advice I have is to give yourself a buffer zone of half or one day to get back into the swing of things.