What to do when you return from vacation and your crowded inbox has you in shambles emotionally

You return from vacation, fresh-faced and re-energized, only to innocently log into your work email and get hit with a load anxiety weighing a sack full of bricks. Too. Many. Emails. Here’s how to get through your inbox without losing it.

I know this has happened to you: You return from vacation, fresh-faced and re-energized, only to innocently log into your work email and get hit with a load anxiety weighing a sack full of bricks. Too. Many. Emails.

Here’s how to get through your inbox without losing it.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet

After all, there are bigger things to stress about at work —  like looming deadlines.

So don’t lose your head. Rinse. Now, repeat.

Give yourself the time you need upfront

Lindsay Kolowich, a Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot, writes on the company’s website that you should “block 2–3 hours for going through your inbox on your first morning back.”

“This is something you should book on your calendar before you leave for vacation. Go into your online calendar and block off at least two or three hours on the morning of the first day you’re back at work,” she advises. “Since mornings tend to lend fewer distractions, it’ll be easier for you to crank through your emails without multitasking, which can really hurt your productivity.”

Kolowich writes that she often labels this time “Hold for catch-up.”

If you have to respond to everything, use the right response

Freelance writer and editor Sara McCord writes in The Muse that one of the mistakes people make when tackling email after vacation is “prioritizing response time over quality.”

“If you have pages of emails to get through and can’t curb the desire to reply ASAP, copy and paste a generic response,” she says. “Try this ‘I’ll be spending today catching up on emails. If you need a response before 5 PM, please email me back and let me know.”

Yes, it’s an extra step, but if your number one goal is to get back to everyone first thing, it’ll allow you to do that, then exhale and take your time responding,” she writes.

Give yourself one minute per email

Matt Heinz, an author, blogger and President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, writes that you should “complete, respond to and delete any email that takes a minute or less.”

“These might not be the more important and urgent tasks on your list today, but you can bang through these quickly, get them off your plate, and it’ll not only make you feel good to get stuff done but will take advantage of the ‘fog’ you’ll still have getting back into work mode,” Heinz says. “None of us are 100% ready to tackle our most important work the morning after being away. Getting through the quick, fast and easy stuff makes you immediately productive but in a way that helps get your brain and creative juices back in gear.”

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.