Vacation vs. Email – The Final Battle

Kevin King —  August 6, 2013 — 7 Comments

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

The fear starts right around the middle of your vacation.  It starts with voice inside your head stating with immense trepidation, “You are going to have so many emails when you get back to work.”  Then you start checking the number of emails on your phone even though you promised your family you would not even think about the library.  When the number starts to grow you secretly find ways to answer the ones that only require one word answers like “Yes,” “No,” and “Custard.” Eventually you start to wake up early just to tackle some correspondence even though you should be sleeping in.  In the end, when panic fully sets in, you simply take your iPad to the beach.  Email has defeated you again while on vacation.

This year I vowed to not let email defeat my vacation again.  My plan involved doing a few things before, during and after my time off.

  • In the days leading up to vacation, I worked diligently on the emails residing in my Inbox.  I replied, filed and deleted until I was left with a very manageable number.   Don’t try and do it all in two or three days.  Start a week or more before you leave ands only work on emails for no more than an hour at a time.
  • While on vacation, use travel time to answer emails.  I find that the times riding in a car or sitting in airports are wonderful for quick replies.  It is in your best interest to never respond to an email that requires an involved or more sensitive response.  I’ve regretted quickly replying to emails that actually required a more extensive answer., save those for when you return to the office. Another great tactic is to simply delete all the junk mail or group messages that do not apply to you because you are off from work.  Be very selective when using downtime to check emails during vacation.  Remember this time off is essentially for recharging the battery!
  • When you return to work make it a goal to only reply to emails for one hour chunks, two to three times a day.  This will give you time to attend to other non-email type work piled on your desk as well as opportunities to check in with your staff and team.

During vacation last week when the fear started to invade my brain, I was able to fight it back with the knowledge that I had a plan.  This in turn allowed me to have a great time with my family.  When I returned to work one colleague even remarked, “You must of had fun because I noticed you were not on email as much.”  Take that email.  I beat you.

Kevin King


Kevin King is the Head of Branch and Circulation Services at the Kalamazoo (MI) Public Library. Previously Kevin led Teen Services at KPL, where he helped build a nationally recognized program. Kevin has presented all over the country on many topics including teen services, innovation, graphic novels, and programming. As a member of ALA, YALSA, PLA and the Michigan Library Association, Kevin has served on various committees and has luckily won a couple of awards. In his spare time Kevin obsesses over the Detroit Tigers, listens to music and does his best to be a kick ass dad to Abigail and Rachael.

7 responses to Vacation vs. Email – The Final Battle


    I like this plan! I find it helpful to communicate my availability when away on vacation so that everyone knows how to reach me if the need is urgent. Along the lines of “I won’t be checking work email while I’m away but can be reached at my personal email address or via text or voice on my cell phone.”


    Sadly, I read this…..on vacation! At least I know I don’t suffer alone.


    Equally defeating is thinking you can simply read the email so you “know what’s going on.” I spent my staycation worrying about things my team was entirely capable of handling! Wish I’d read this to give me the strength to resist.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Found: August 5 – 19, 2013 | Library Lost & Found - August 17, 2013

    […] We were victorious in the vacation vs. e-mail battle. […]

  2. Librarians, Let Go of Emails: 3 Steps to Empty Your Inbox and Do Work that Matters « Library Lost & Found - February 18, 2016

    […] Sure, new emails rise to the top and sure, you can search, and sure, you can flag things. But all of that is so much easier when there are about ten emails in your inbox. It saves you time and it sets you up nicely for when you are going to be out of the office for an extended period of time. […]

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