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22nd May 2019
:: Adviser | Productivity | Dealing with your Email Backlog

Dealing With Your Email Backlog
If you are one of those who returns to work with trepidation after time away from your desk, and are concerned about your bulging Inbox, then here’s a very useful article to help you deal with it in next to no time.
It's coming round to that time of year again, so I thought it was worth posting this to help you deal with all those lovely emails you come back to after a holiday break.
If you rely on email as part of your business, you probably dread coming back to hundreds of emails. The thought of spending the first week dealing with them all can be a nightmare, so here are a few ideas to help you deal with the backlog.
First off
Move ALL the unread emails into a 'Holiday Email' Folder or some such name. That way you can clear your Inbox and quickly scan and deal with all the new emails as they come in.
Once you've planned out the important things you need to get done on your first day back, set aside an hour to go through your Holiday Email folder. Do your priority task first then deal with your email.
First scan
DON'T READ OR RESPOND TO ANY EMAILS ON THIS SCAN. Just go through quickly and eliminate the spam and any email you know you don't need to read. Use the sort function to sort your email by sender or subject, which makes it easier to delete the junk. This should take only a few minutes.
Second scan
Pick out all the priority emails you need to respond to first and flag them or place them in a separate 'Action' folder.
  • Set aside time to respond to your 'Action' emails - start doing this now, as you should still have plenty of time left. Go through and respond to the emails that only need a quick two-minute response.
  • Leave emails requiring a longer response or more thought until later in the day when you're next planned to deal with them.
Allow yourself a few minutes to take a quick look at any new emails - in case there is anything important that needs attention, but I mean a 'few minutes'. Don't get distracted!
Third scan
If you've still got time in the hour do the third scan - if your filters haven't already sorted out Reading emails, now is the time to place all of these in the appropriate folders).
  • Remember you don't have time to read everything, and the world won't end just because you haven't read this week's/month's newsletter.
  • Now might also be the time to unsubscribe to those you never get round to reading anyway.
Fourth scan
Deal with what's left. Less urgent action emails can now be dealt with. Anything still left?
  • If it's not action or reading - it's probably not urgent so can be deleted.
Once you've safely dealt with the backlog that came in while you were away, then you can apply the same process to the new emails that have come in.
Clare Evans; Time Management Coach
22nd August 2007
This has been adapted from an original article written by Clare Evans, in August 2007.
Clare is a Time Management Coach, and can be contacted at
Her website can be found at The IFA Time Coach

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