Although you cannot control the number of inbound outreaches to you, you can set expectations regarding how your colleagues will hear back from you. Expectations are the boundaries you create which reflect your unique style, calendar and workload. Here are some ways to set expectations/boundaries with your colleagues:
– Establish, communicate, and honor a 24-hour response rule where you say in your emails and voicemails that you will respond to your colleagues within 24 hours of your receipt of their outreach. It is generally understood that this means Monday if the message is left from Friday to Sunday.
– Schedule time on your calendar specifically to respond to voicemails and emails.
– Utilize the “out-of-office” functionality embedded in your email system when you know you will be unable to access email or voicemail (i.e., you are attending a three-day offsite meeting or you are on vacation), and ensure you include when you will be returning to the office, when you will be able to start responding to outreaches you have received, and the name, phone number and email address of an individual your colleagues can reach during your absence
– Update your voicemail to let your colleagues know that you are out of the office, when you will be returning, and who they can contact in your absence if they have an urgent need.