Majority of Americans Check E-mail Over Holidays: A Survival Guide

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There you are, relaxing with your family after a great Thanksgiving feast, when your Blackberry buzzes. You glance at the screen and notice it's a new email--from your boss. Really, you think, on Thanksgiving day?!

Well, you're not alone--a new poll by Xobni and Harris Interactive shows that a whopping 79 percent of working Americans receive work-related emails over holidays--and 59 percent check them.

In an online survey conducted by market research firm Harris Interactive (on behalf of Xobni), 2,179 adults aged 18 and older were polled on their holiday email usage. According to the poll, 41 percent of those who receive work emails over the holidays were--big surprise--not terribly thrilled with it. Twelve percent of respondents said they "dreaded" seeing work emails, and 10 percent said they felt pity for those (bosses, I'm looking at you) who actually send work emails out over the holidays.

But not everyone enjoys their holidays more than their jobs--19 percent of respondents who have ever received work-related emails over the holidays said they were "thankful" for the distraction. Five percent even said they use work email to their advantage--as a way of avoiding awkward family moments, or getting out of boring holiday commitments.

Lastly, 42 percent of the email-checkers said they are just thinking of the future--after all, nobody wants to be overwhelmed with emails on the first day back.

Xobni, the creator of the Xobni email managing Microsoft Outlook add-in, uses the poll as a platform for advertising "more productive and efficient" email tips, which (naturally) include downloading and installing Xobni. Xobni's Outlook add-in helps people more effectively manage their inboxes by providing a number of services, including the integration of social networking accounts and threaded emails.

Here's some better advice on how to handle work emails over the holiday season:

1. Tell your boss/co-workers/clients you'll be out of the country. Somewhere third-world. Where there's no internet. Tell them not to bother emailing you, because you'll be backpacking in Patagonia and you won't be able to check it.

2. Set up filters. Yeah, I realize that some of you check your email so as not to be overwhelmed with a chaotic inbox when you get back. So set up filters for your boss, your co-workers, your clients, etc., and have your email automatically sorted into them. Now when you get back, (at least part of) your work will be done.

3. Set up a vacation responder. Preferably one that says, "I'm backpacking in Patagonia and have no internet access for the next two weeks."

4. If you absolutely must check work emails while on vacation, only respond to the ones that need responding to. I cannot stress this enough. You are on vacation, and so most people will treat your absence as, well, an absence--unless you give them an excuse not to. For example, by responding to their emails even though you're supposedly "gone."

What do you guys think--how many of you are going to be checking emails this Thursday?

Follow Sarah on Twitter (@geeklil) or at

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