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20 Dec

Make an e-mailing pact

Datum: 2021-12-20 16:07

You know how it is. You return to work after a few weeks of vaca­tion and the inbox is vir­tu­al­ly filled to the brim with unread e‑mails. And as if that was not enough, your first weeks back are packed with meet­ings since the projects you are involved in did not take a vaca­tion just because you did.

On your first day back you man­age to deal with and process the most urgent e‑mails, but you can tell that there are quite a few more you real­ly need to get to in the next cou­ple of days, and you flag or high­light them so that you will for­get about them. The next morn­ing you find that you have received replies to the mes­sages you sent yes­ter­day as well as quite a few addi­tion­al e‑mails. The inbox is burst­ing with unread cor­re­spon­dence, and the relaxed mode you were in after those weeks off work is abrupt­ly exchanged for a high­er pace.

The first week back pass­es and the omi­nous inbox hangs over you like a dark cloud, and the thought that you soon, real­ly soon, have to take time to deal with your e‑mails remains at the back of your mind. After anoth­er week back you feel dis­cour­aged, and in a moment of dis­tress you send all the unread e‑mails into an archive-fold­er. You jus­ti­fy the action with the thought well, if it was some­thing impor­tant, I guess they will just have to e‑mail me again!”, but the feel­ing that you might have missed some­thing impor­tant will not leave you alone.

By one col­league for another
A cou­ple of weeks ago, a par­tic­i­pant from one of my cours­es shared a tip which has remained with me since. I do not remem­ber who she was, but I thought it was a very lib­er­at­ing and gen­er­ous way to avoid expe­ri­enc­ing the awful sit­u­a­tion depict­ed above.

She said:

The last time my col­league was going away on vaca­tion, she shared her email inbox with me. A cou­ple of days pri­or to her return to the office, I checked her inbox and erased all e‑mails which she clear­ly would not need or be inter­est­ed in. Some were just junk mail, oth­ers con­tained infor­ma­tion which was now irrel­e­vant, and so on. When she returned and opened her email appli­ca­tion, the inbox only con­tained impor­tant and rel­e­vant e‑mails, and she was able to get up to speed with her cor­re­spon­dence much faster than she oth­er­wise would have done.

The next time it is my turn to take a vaca­tion, she will do the same for me.”

Isn’t this just bril­liant? A gift like this from a col­league is tru­ly worth its weight in gold. Just imag­ine the dif­fer­ence between return­ing to work with an inbox full of rel­e­vant e‑mails and return­ing to an inbox brim­ming with mis­cel­la­neous nonsense.

Do this
If you want to, think about which one of your col­leagues you would most like to make an e‑mailing pact with. Who is best equipped to deter­mine what to you con­sti­tutes rel­e­vant and impor­tant e‑mails?

If you know who this might be right away, pick up the phone, send them an e‑mail or write a to-do-task about sug­gest­ing a pact the next time you meet them. Set a dead­line for the task if you already know when you would need this favor from them.

Vaca­tion to the very last minute
If you make an e‑mailing pact with some­one at work, it will be much eas­i­er to return after being away for a while. You will not feel forced to start pro­cess­ing e‑mails dur­ing your last days of vaca­tion, but feel cer­tain that you to a much greater extent than before will be able to process the inbox with­in a rea­son­able timeframe.

Do you have a sim­i­lar deal?
What is your way of help­ing each oth­er ease into work­ing again after being away from work at your com­pa­ny? Tell me!