How to Slay the Post-Holiday Inbox Dragon
Back from holidays and facing hundreds of emails? It’s overwhelming! Where do you even start?
Resist the temptation to press [Ctrl-A] and [Delete]. Instead, use my system to slay the inbox dragon. You might even be able to hold on to some of that precious post-holiday serenity.
But first, a quick backtrack. I’ve written previously on
These articles can help you tackle your inbox smartly.
Here’s a quick review of The ONLY 4 things you should do with new email.
Can you action the email in a few minutes or less – reply, forward, attach a file, make a note, find a file, change a document, etc? If so, do it straight away.
Need more time or resources? Don’t use this option to procrastinate on tasks you can do quickly – it’s a last resort. You want as few flagged emails as possible.
If it’s a genuine flagger, schedule it – put the task in your diary for the due date, flag it (an Outlook option) for the due date, or move it to a To Do folder that you action regularly.
If no action is needed but you think you may need the email for reference, file it.
If no action is needed and you don’t need the email, delete it.
These are good everyday habits, but when you’re facing the fire-breathing, post-holiday inbox, more drastic measures are needed. Ready? Here they are…
Power-Inbox-Clearing System – 4 Tips for Slaying the Post-Holiday Inbox Dragon
Tip 1. Start with the most recent emails
Earlier issues often get resolved later, so don’t waste time on things that change or take care of themselves. If you find an email with a trail of previous emails, you can deal with the latest, search your inbox for that subject, and delete all the previous ones with a single, satisfying click.
Tip 2. Process similar emails together
If you have multiple emails from the same sender or on the same topic, search your inbox for that sender or topic, and tackle all the emails together. You’ll do less mental shifting, letting you get through the emails faster and with more focus.
Tip 3. Set a time limit
I suggest you tackle your inbox dragon in small chunks. You’ll get weary and indecisive after a while, reducing your speed and increasing your frustration. Limit yourself to 30-minute stints and you’ll make better progress.
Tip 4. Be ruthless (or simplicity focussed)
This one’s a matter of personal preference, but in today’s email-overload world it’s hard to be effective without being a little hard-core in your resistance to email excess. Whether you think of it as ruthlessness or simplicity, I suggest you err on the side of unsubscribing freely, (but not to Get Organized Tips!), replying only when needed, actioning quickly and deferring rarely. You’ll get through your inbox faster this time, and generate less mail in the future.
Then you can take off your amour, lay down your sword, and have some chocolate.
You deserve it.
Want more strategies for managing email overload?
Learn about Inbox Zen | 7 Simple Steps For Making Peace With Your Email.