The best way to handle your email after vacation.
I earned over €250K (~$300K) from my corporate job last year. That’s the gross amount, of course, and here in the European Union, you can calculate to net around 50% of your gross salary. Still, that kind of money enables more than a decent living in the European country where I’m based.
This is 4x as much as the country’s prime minister makes. And it’s nearly double from the government-owned telco CEO. Just to give you a perspective. Yet, I have none of the political pressure or need to spend time kissing assess to keep my job. No citizen journalists take pictures of me on the beach, and I don’t get molested by voters who want the government to do more for them.
And I hang out with many entrepreneurs with established businesses who are making about the same for 4x the stress. Guys who can’t afford to take a decent vacation without risking their companies falling apart. Typically, those are the people who’ve spent their money on Porsches and young girlfriends (plus ex-wives) and are always just one bad cash-flow month separated from bankruptcy.
Us, corporate guys can always take a vacation. We get to burn all our vacation days, going to the mountains and the seaside during summers, and skiing in the winter. The corporation keeps churning money, nothing breaks, and the biggest challenge upon return is the overflowed inbox.
It’s time for a confession – a couple of years ago, I returned from a 10-day vacation during which I had no decent WiFi, and, having expected this, prepared my Team, peers, and management for that. I returned to nearly a thousand unread emails. But the IT updated the webmail system during my absence, so as I was fiddling around, I unintentionally pressed “Mark All as Read”.
Panic hit me at first, thinking about how to undo that action, and I found a solution. But before I used it, I leaned back, looked around, and thought to myself What’s the worst that can happen. And I had another sip of coffee and decided to walk out to join the smelly smokers to get up to speed on the gossip.
My heart was racing, as I carried that secret for the rest of the day. It felt like I had sex with a co-worker and was afraid someone would find out. But by the end of the day (EOB in Corporate speak) that burden passed, and I felt fine. Some people wrote again, but nobody was furious, as everyone considered that I returned to a full inbox and was still working through it. I’ve adopted a new habit ever since; upon returning from vacation, I use the “Mark All as Read” button within the first half an hour at the office.
Go ahead. Try it. It’s liberating. You don’t need Hey or any of the latest AI-powered email services. Good ol’ Mark All as Read was always there.
Of course, the LPT is how to act when you’re on the other side of that equation — sending email to a person during their vacation. Regardless if they’re in the MAR, Mark All as Read (I just invented the new Corporate 3-letter acronym here!) camp or not, check the date in their auto-reply. Then either schedule your email to be resent on the start of the workday that day, or put a calendar reminder for yourself to resend the message on the day of their return. This way, you’ll land on top of their inbox and get served first.
van der B