Email: the bane of a modern worker's daily productivity. Open and respond to a dozen emails at the start of your day, and you'll still have another one or two dozen in your inbox by the end of it. And over the holidays, when vacation days are common and coworkers are sparse, adequately managing email becomes even tougher than normal.
How can you keep visions of “Inbox (75)” from crowding out the sugarplums that should be dancing in your head this holiday season? I contacted Alex Moore, CEO and co-founder of email app company Boomerang, to grill him on the best advice for managing email while respecting both your coworkers' vacation time and your own. Here are the top three tips Moore had to offer.
Schedule Email in Batches
A common email response tactic is to establish specific time periods during one's workday in order to respond to email. Answering emails at the beginning and end of your day frees up all the time in between to work towards your goals. But with the latest advances in email tech, you can ensure you're not tempted to check your email every ten minutes throughout the day.
“It’s extremely difficult to disconnect over the holidays,” Moore explains, “especially if there are any urgent projects or client requests that come in during this time. If you do have to stay connected over the holidays make sure to turn off push notifications and use tools like Inbox Pause to minimize the amount of email notifications you receive throughout the day. By scheduling your email batches to hit your inbox only two or three times a day at pre-specified times, you’re less likely to get distracted by the notifications, but still feel comfortable knowing you’ll see any urgent requests or important updates.”
You'll still have your smartphone, but if you plan ahead and rely on the right technology, you won't have the siren call of your work emails bothering you during the holiday.
Consider Smart Assistants
If you're finding it tough to keep up with a tidal wave of email, you might want to explore the AI-powered options available to you.
“Smart assistants are extremely helpful in managing emails over the holidays as they can give you an overview of what urgent items might be pending in your inbox, and how much time you’ll have to carve out to respond to them. Smart assistants like the one from Boomerang, offer ‘brief me’ capabilities which can identify how many unread emails require your attention and how long it will take. Simultaneously, if you have to make a quick call or find a specific attachment, you can do so with a quick simple voice command so you’re not spending large amounts of time sifting through your inbox looking for phone numbers, documents or photos,” Moore explains.
Even just Google's Smart Reply function — which offers three short potential responses that can be sent with a single mouse click — can significantly streamline your response times when managing email.
Don't Be a Hard Ask
One data-driven tip from a recent Boomerang study: You do tend to get better open rates with “hey” than with “greetings” or “dear.” But however you open the email, be sure to take extra care to communicate clearly during the holidays.
“If you do end up having to make an ask of your team members over the holidays,” Moore says, “make sure you’re clear and straightforward about what it is that you’re looking for, when you’ll need it by, and why it’s important/why you need it right now. Sentiment changes very quickly before and after the holiday, with many email users being much more receptive to email after the holiday. If your ask can wait until after the holiday, then it’s better to wait but if not, make sure your email consolidates all the info required for your team to complete the task in full.”
While “soft” skills like communications are easy to underestimate, they're more important than ever when managing email during the holiday season. Don't forget the power of remaining clear, being understanding, and acting polite during the rush to install the best email tech before your vacation days kick in.