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3 tips for avoiding email stress over the holiday break

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Answering emails is easily one of the most time consuming tasks of the day. On average, office employees spend 4.1 hours reading, writing and sending emails daily. That equates to 20.5 hours a week and over 1,000 hours a year.

Even on vacation, it is not uncommon for employees to fall victim to sending and answering emails. In fact, German automaker Daimler has implemented a "Mail on Holiday" policy that ensures its employees are taking full advantage of their time off. Through this policy, employees have the option to set their emails to autodelete while away from the office.

While not everyone has the luxury of having an employer like Daimler, below are three ways you can implement your own "Mail on Holiday" policy so that you aren't overwhelmed by a demanding inbox.

1. Set clear expectations for when you will be out

Sending an out-of-office email may seem like a no-brainer to some, but the content in the email is what's key to ensuring you don't face an out-of-control inbox. Rather than simply outlining your leave dates, provide specific details for how someone can still get their question answered in your absence.

"Make sure that your colleagues and clients have a clear understanding that they will not be hearing back from you," says Aye Moah, co-founder of email productivity software company Boomerang.

She tells CNBC Make It if you want to decrease your chances of having hundreds of unread emails, then include a contact within the organization that people can reach out to for urgent matters while you're away.

2. Turn off notifications

One of the main things that keep people plugged into work even when they're away from the office is email notifications. According to psychologists, email notifications can easily become a "toxic source of stress," as they lead individuals to continuously check and read their messages throughout the day.

"Research shows that each notification throws us off by 64 seconds, and it takes about 20 minutes to reach productivity again," says Boomerang CEO and email productivity expert Alex Moore.

That means even if you've made a personal agreement to not respond to emails, you are still being distracted by the notifications.

If turning off notifications sounds like a stretch to you, then Moah suggest setting up a productivity app like Boomerang that allows you to pause your inbox so that emails come to your phone during a specific time of the day.

3. If you must send an email be very specific with your needs

Moah says if you find yourself having to send an email or respond to one during the holidays then you need to be as specific as possible in your message.

She says a lack of clarity can lead to multiple email exchanges about what you need and why you need it now, causing more disruptions than one detailed message.

"When you do have to send an email, be conscious of the recipient's time and make sure your email is easy to answer," she says.

If your concern does not need to be answered right away, then it may be best to hold off on your email until after the holidays.

"What we found when we were looking at the email sentiments for the year is people get kind of cranky right before Christmas and after Christmas they get happy," says Moah. "So it may be easier to wait until after Christmas to send that email because people are more likely to respond with a positive response."

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