I just returned from 5 wonderful weeks away in Europe. It was wonderful to spend time exploring new places and new cultures, meeting new people and learning new things. I have lots to share with you about what I learned, but right now I want to share with you one thing that made my return to home and business life easy was the way I handled email while I was away, and what I did when I got back.
First of all, I have to say that I almost totally switched off from work. I had someone back home handling emergencies. My voicemail was very clear about my return date, and how to contact me (via email) if it was important. I was able to book clients and answer questions, and I was able to recommend other organisers if the project needed to be done before my homecoming.
While I was away I did not spend much time processing email, deleting spam, reading newsletters, etc. Honestly, I had better things to do – gape in awe at the Last Supper in Milan, splash through the squares of Venice during Acqua Alta, drool at piles of baklava and Turkish delight in Istanbul. You get the idea. When wifi was available, I simply scanned my emails, quickly replied to anything that could not wait. Sometimes that reply was simply “I’m in Europe, I’ll respond when I get back”. For anything that I wanted to keep or that needed my attention when I returned to my desk, I did one quick and easy action. I flagged it.
The magic and surprising (even to me) thing is that it took me a grand total of 60 minutes to deal with the 5-week backlog of email. I knew that unless it had a flag it was unimportant, and could be deleted. And I deleted merrily, and in bulk. The flagged items got their response, or were filed away for reference.
So here’s my advice to you. Don’t waste time on the unimportant. Instead, focus on the important. The same can be said for so many aspects of our lives!