Tip of the week # 489
25 July 2016

5 tips to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday (Microsoft Outlook) *

With the holiday season upon us, doesn't it sound tempting to set up a rule that will send all your email received during your time off straight into your bin? Far-fetched? The German company Daimler encouraged setting up the following automatic reply:

I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it's really important, or resend the email after I'm back in the office. Danke Schoen.

(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28786117 if you want to read more about this novel idea.)

As it probably isn't very likely you get away with this where you work, herewith five top tips to prevent email overload upon your return.

  1. Switch on your Out of Office message a day early, so you have time to clear out your inbox before you leave.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
  2. Forward your mail to a colleague.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
    3. Click Rules, and then click Add Rule.
    4. Tick the Forward check box and enter the name of your colleague who has agreed to keep an eye on your email in your absence.
    5. If necessary, click on the Check Names button.
    6. Consider clicking the Delete check box. (You can always rummage through your recycle bin upon your return.)
    7. Click OK three times.
  3. Automatically move messages where your name is in the Cc box to a folder named "when I have time to read this".
    1. Right-click any of your messages.
    2. Select Rules, Create Rule.
    3. Click on Advanced Options.
    4. Tick where my name is in the Cc box (11th from the top).
    5. Click Next.
    6. Tick the first check box (move it to the specified folder).
    7. In the Step 2 box, click on the underlined specified link.
    8. Click on the "when I have time to read this" folder you created earlier or click on New to create a folder "on the fly".
    9. Click OK.
    10. Click Finish.
  4. Agree with colleagues they all mark messages about meetings or events to expire after a specific date.
    1. Create the message as normal. (CTRL+N, anyone?)
    2. On the Options tab click on the dialog box launcher (the tiny arrow) in the More Options group.
    3. Tick the Expires after check box.
    4. Upon your return any messages about meetings or events that happened during your absence have a strike through the subject line and will be easy to spot for you to delete.
  5. Send out a message to your main contacts one or two weeks prior to your holiday.

Wishing you all a relaxing, stress-free break.

* Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.