Today's article is a guest post from our friend Kathie Kinde Clark. The value of working hard is extremely important, but taking some time for yourself and tuning out while on vacation to recharge is valuable too. Kathie shares some great insight on how to prepare ahead so you can unplug on vacation. Enjoy!
I used to feel that checking email on vacation prevented me from being overwhelmed when I got back. I was wrong. All this strategy does is prevent me from completely unplugging – which keeps me from feeling truly refreshed.
I know. I know. You’re thinking you are far too important to go email-free for a week. If you are this important to your organization, you’re too key to burn out, which is what you’re going to eventually do if you keep this up. If you’re interested in giving unplugging a try, here are my tips for making it happen:
Send an email out 1-2 weeks prior to your vacation that lets your key constituents know when you will be out of the office, that you will not be accessing email during that time (perhaps even use the wording “I will not have access…”), and who your backup is. Ask kindly that they address anything they have outstanding with you prior to the time you leave.
Prevent as much email as possible from hitting your inbox in the first place. Here is a great article by Lifehacker that shows you how to do this in Gmail. You can use the same ideas in Outlook. I have created a rule that sends anything containing certain words (such as: unsubscribe, newsletter, view in browser) to a folder called “Subscriptions.” If you get regular reports or status updates, create rules for those too. It’s best to start this process 1-2 weeks before your vacation so you can see what slips through the cracks and make rules for those as well.
If you have an admin or someone you can delegate to, give them access to your email. Depending on your comfort level, they can respond and forward email for you or they can simply do clean up (for instance, when you’ve been copied on 50 “reply all” type email threads). If you’re able to do this step, just know that I’m completely jealous.
1-2 days before your vacation, send another email out to your key constituents. This time, be very specific as to how email should be handled in your absence. You can ask to not be a part of “reply all” chains or you can ask your team to keep a running document of what has gone on in your absence that they will send to you the day before your return. Another thing you may want to ask for is for your team to use certain email headers to help upon your return (such as: action needed, FYI).
Alert team members (or it may be the same audience as above) to text you if something blows up while you’re gone. This will be your cue to check email because you will not be checking it regularly (or ideally, at all). Set your out of office to start halfway through your last day before vacation. This will help start to slow the emails down. Of course, the same goes for your voice mail message(s).
If you have email on your phone, see if you can move the icon to a place where it doesn’t show up every time you look at your phone. This will just be temptation to peek in on it.
Do you have any additional tips to prepare your inbox for your vacation? Post them in the comments. If you like this article, please consider checking out my other posts and following me.