The first full weekend following New Years is often a busy weekend for taking down all of those holiday decorations, cleaning up after family visits and generally getting reset for the upcoming year.  This process takes a couple of weekends for me (I put up way too many decorations!), and somehow always extends to my work life.  For many of us, Monday was our first day back in the office after a long break spent with extended families and friends. If you actually took time off, the first day back is spent sifting through emails trying to determine what the actionable items are and re-prioritizing tasks that changed while you were away.  All this while recovering from the one break that is rarely a true break if you have kids or in-laws. 

Ideally, we all have an effective process so that actionable requests are sent to our project management system instead of our in-boxes so we can skip past the tedious process of sorting through the hordes of well wishes, holiday sales promotions, out of office notes, and follow ups to meetings that didn’t need to be meetings.  But if you’re not lucky enough to have that process in place, we have some quick hacks to ease you through the post-holiday hump, (then call us, we’ll help you get set up with ALOE so next year’s post-holiday hump won’t be quite so daunting).

First, all emails from vendors that you’re not currently negotiating with and those from want to be vendors can go immediately in the trash.  If your inbox looks like mine that’s half of it right there.  While I appreciate the well wishes and end of year promotions – no one has time for them. Privacy policy updates can be set aside for review later, but the rest is generally just good will stuff.  Delete.

Next go all of the list serve updates from your firms, associations, and other professional organizations.  Yes, they generally have good info and help you stay on top of the changing legislative landscape.  But nothing important happens in the last couple of weeks of the year of which you weren’t already aware.  Anything that’s coming up in the near future will be in next weeks editions of those same listservs.  Delete all.

That should reduce your unopened items by 2/3rds.  The remainder will be from work colleagues and the “other party” in whatever matters you have open.  There are several ways of triaging the rest from here.  If you have “power” email users – the people who use email to exclusively communicate important information – focus on those first.  Otherwise separate by updates to current issues and new issues.  Look through the new to see if any new priorities arise, otherwise add them to the list and continue with your current priorities.  With any luck, you’ll be caught up by the second full weekend in January.  Then you can focus on putting in place an effective process and a project management system to make getting back after the holidays a lot less painful.

Tanya Avila

Tanya Avila

Tanya has made a career of building legal departments in fast paced, fast growth environments. Having repeated the process at half a dozen different organizations, she is passionate about all things that bring efficiency and sanity to the internal legal process.