Monday, 28 August 2006

How do you truly know when email has become a problem without a good solution? Simple. Take a vacation. This is a clue...

And that's after working through a large chunk of it already - the most obvious and highest priority stuff, anyhow.

Yes, I've tried many of the various methodologies available out there, but ultimately it's all about reviewing each one and acting on each in same shape or form. Vacations do this to email. Darn those vacations. The difference this time around is I decided that instead of ruining the vacation mood, I'd work my way through the ocean a little at a time. Highest priority stuff came first. No point in ruining the positive effects of the vacation by losing sleep over email, eh?

Anyone have brilliant ideas for how to deal with the ocean of email that results from being gone for a couple weeks? Dealing with it day-to-day is easy. It's the been-gone-for-a-long-time problem that seems to be more vexing. Mark-as-read just has too many risks.

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Monday, 28 August 2006 14:56:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Tuesday, 29 August 2006 04:42:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I find it effective to create an Outlook rule that re-routes everything I get to the recycle bin while on vacation. I sometimes work in a reply stating that I have received their message and have assigned my top colleague to the task. If possible you should supply their direct phone number for inquiries. It is a highly effective technique for ensuring that your inbox is clear upon your return. =-P

Honestly I struggle with catching up on email greatly when out of the office for any length of time. Even sometimes when travelling for work but offline for extended periods of time.
Tuesday, 29 August 2006 06:57:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Here are a few ideas:
* First, search for everything in your inbox where you are CC'd. File those away to a searchable folder (MSN desktop or Google) and trust that you'll be able to find it if you need it. Plus, if it is really important and requires action, the person will get back to you.
* Block out two hours in your calendar to quickly take one of three actions on each email: delete it, file it, or turn it into an action. I've got a nice macro for Outlook 2007 that I'll be happy to share with you.
Wednesday, 30 August 2006 17:41:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Honestly take it in stride. I understand there is alot of important emails in there but if you let work overwhelm you and keep you there you will just be digging the grave deeper. Work is not as important as people make it out to be.
Thursday, 31 August 2006 03:20:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Everybody has this problem.
I try to keep my inbox as empty as possible by using folders and automatic rules for filing.

All the email lists that I am a member of (like LockerGnome) have their own folder and emails get filed there automatically (still marked as Unread). This does mean that you have to create a lot of folders and rules. :) But it is a one-off task and the automatic sorting is a joy to behold.

You can do this for any email that you get often from the same source. More general mail you can often classify with a rule examining the header content.

Saturday, 02 September 2006 10:29:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I don't really see the problem. You see, email is way too easy, so everybody uses it to make you do their work. When you are in vacation, you are in vacation. You cannot be reached. You took some time off during which you do no work and during which others have to do your work.

So what is wrong with setting up a vacation message on your email account telling people that you are out of the office until then and then and if they have an urgent issue contact this guy, or otherwise send you a *snail mail* letter to that postal address. Or resend the email when you are back.

If it was important enough, they will write you a letter through snail mail. If they are too lazy to do that, it wasn't important. If they don't send you an email when you are back, the matter wasn't important or has solved itself. Then delete all office email while you're on vacation.
Florian Zschocke
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