Nothing sullies the effect of a much-needed vacation like an overflowing inbox when you return to reality. For PhD student danah boyd, who is about to undergo the dissertation filing process, that’s a burden that’s not worth shouldering.
For those who are unaware of my approach to vacation… I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I’ve trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I’m away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX. Don’t worry… if you forget, you’ll get a nice note from my INBOX telling you to shove off, respect danah’s deeply needed vacation time, and try again after January 19.
Over at 43 Folders, Merlin Mann suggests that those of us unwilling to take as extreme approach as danah often set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves, make promises we can’t keep to other, and, ultimately, you end up taking a similar approach:
You ever done the opposite of what danah is doing? Where you come back from a vacation during which you half-checked email from a mobile device, ignored most of it, and didn’t properly finish processing the rest? Sure, you have. And, what happened?
Well, if you’re like most people, you deleted a lot of the messages without even reading them. Right?
Now that the holiday season upon us, so is the inevitable email logjam. While cutting off your email entirely may be unrealistic for many, it’s could be perfect for you. If not, let’s hear how you successfully manage your vacation email while avoiding common pitfalls in the comments.