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.