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How to approach the mountain of e-mails after a holiday

There's often no way around it. The knowledge that e-mails are inevitably piling up during your holidays can create a dread of that first day back at work. 
"You often hear of radical suggestions, for instance of simply deleting all the emails during the holiday," says Nina Pauls, a business psychologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. 
"But in practice I don't know anybody who does that or who can do that." 
Instead, the expert advises setting aside time in your schedule to make your way through emails in the first week of work. Depending on the amount of messages you get and the duration of your holiday, you may easily need a few hours for this task. 
Pauls also recommends making arrangements so that one colleague can inform you on your return as to what needs doing immediately and what can wait for a few days. 
Of course, it is even better if the flow of emails somehow remains manageable during your time off. 
"If I come back from holiday to find a three-figure number of emails, it is really already too late," says Pauls. "Then all you can do is damage control." 
But if there are clear arrangements within the team or company from the start, then this problem should not arise in the first place. This entails, for instance, clear rules about who needs to be copied in to which e-mails. 
Also, communication does not always need to happen in e-mails. Making appointments can be achieved better by telephone or using tools like shared calendars. 
Filters and automatic archiving features can also help to create order in your inbox by separating newsletters and regular e-mails. 
"It's also about making full use of the technology," Pauls explains. Many people aren't even aware of all the possibilities, she says. — dpa


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