Vacations are great. Returning from them, not so much.

While you get to show off your tan and tackle your to-do list with renewed vigor, coming home after getting away also means facing one of the most dreaded realities of the contemporary work environment--your massively overstuffed email inbox. While you've been away sipping cocktails or hitting the slopes, your correspondence (and daily quotient of junk mail) has been piling up. Now you face the truly horrifying task of sorting through all the unopened messages.

Or do you? VC Brad Feld thinks he's found a better way, but be warned, it's not for the faint of heart.

"Over the years, I've heard over and over again from people who never go on vacation or get off the grid, explaining that they can't imagine doing this because they would be more stressed out when they return to all the email they have to respond to," he writes in a recent blog post. "I'm a huge believer in completely going off the grid for vacation ... There's nothing quite like spending a week with your beloved on a periodic basis to remember why you love each other." 

Feld was once terrified of email pileup too. He even scheduled a whole day to deal exclusively with his overgrown inbox upon returning from a trip. But no longer. Now he uses this vacation autoresponder.

I'm on sabbatical and completely off the grid until 12/8/14.

I will not be reading this email. When I return, I'm archiving everything and starting with an empty inbox.

If this is urgent and needs to be dealt with by someone before 12/8, please send it to my assistant Mary (mary@foundrygroup.com). She'll make sure it gets to the right person.

If you want me to see it, please send it again after 12/8.

The result of this experiment in radical email management? A far less stressful return from a nice getaway, Feld reports. "There's something about taking control of how email interacts with you that is very satisfying," he writes, but adds, "I'm always looking for other approaches to try on this, so I'm totally game to hear if you have special magic ones."

What's your approach to handling the after-vacation email deluge? Would Feld's idea work for you?

Published on: Mar 4, 2015
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