By managing email better when you’re out of the office, you can avoid an overcrowded inbox on your return. These seven simple tips will help.
1. Set up ‘Out of Office’ rules ‘Out of office’ emails can be customised to let senders know that you are on leave. Many systems also allow you to specify different messages for specific senders. Your ‘out of office’ message is a good opportunity to set expectations. E.g. “I will respond within 72 hours” or “I will respond within three days of my return to the office on <date>” If you need assistance, use the help option on the menu of your email management software and type in ‘out of office’. For those on a Mac, rules are also available in most email packages and help can also be accessed via the application’s Help menu.
2. Reducing the number of emails you receiveLet your contacts know in advance the dates your business will be closed for the Christmas break.
3. Check with your ISP about webmail accessIf you’re going away from your home office, webmail will allow you to go to an Internet café and check your emails in between cocktails and swimming!
4. Tidy up your emailIn the weeks leading up to Christmas, commit to 15 minutes uninterrupted per week to delete messages and streamline your email.
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5. Archive older emailEmail that you need to keep but don’t need to access everyday can be archived. This will also make your email program run faster. You can archive old emails to CD, external drive or C drive (if you do archive to C, don’t forget to set up a computer back up system!)
6. Regularly empty your deleted items binYou may not realise this, but this may not be happening automatically. Lots of us hold on to deleted mail unnecessarily, just in case we ever need to get it back!
7. Use flags and remindersThese will prompt you on items that need to be completed before your holiday. Most email applications have a flagging option available directly from the Inbox. Don’t forget you can also flag SENT messages to remind you to follow up.