When planning a vacation, one of the biggest stressors is what will happen at work while you are away. This often translates into people not really taking a vacation, but just working remotely wherever they have traveled to. The whole point of taking vacation is to get away from the office and relax, not bring your office with you.
While the ideal way to keep email from ruining your vacation is just to simply tell yourself you will not check it, but that doesn’t always work for every situation. Here are eight tips to keep that nagging inbox from ruining your time off.
1. Make Sure Time Off is Marked on Your Online Calendar
If you work for a company that uses software like Microsoft Outlook to schedule meetings, people use the calendar function to check availability. The earlier your time off is noted, the better. This will help people from trying to schedule meetings when you plan to be out of the office.
2. Send Out An Advisory Email
Another option is to send a message out two weeks before your vacation, alerting everyone that you will be out. Advise them if there are any pressing matters, they need to be brought to your attention and set a cut off date. This gives you an opportunity to handle any last minute items in a timely manner versus 20 minutes before you are ready to walk out the door.
3. Include “Planned Vacation” Language in All Replies During Week Prior to Vacation
A week before your planned time out, include a standard reply in all your outgoing messages that indicates you will be out and what your expected out of the office dates are. This gives others advance notice to bring any pressing matters to your attention that may be looming out there. It can be something as simple as:
“As a reminder, I will be out of the office from December 1 through December 15. During my time away, please contact Joe Smith at JoeSmith@email.com.”
4. Set Out of Office Greeting with “Go To” Person
Prior to taking time off, have someone in place to handle emergencies or any loose ends that need to be tied up. Always remember to set an out of office greeting and indicate you will not be checking email while you are gone. In addition, include a go to person for emergencies or questions in your absence so things are not piling up in your inbox. Just be sure your back-up person has everything they may need access to in order to answer questions or resolve issues that arise in your absence.
5. Do Not Bring Your Laptop
You are far less likely to spend your vacation working if you are without your own computer. If you are forced to use the computer in the Business Center, you will not spend all day inside on the computer (at least we hope you won’t!)
6. Turn Off Data on BlackBerry/iPhone
If you are have a company issued BlackBerry or iPhone that receives your emails, turn the data roaming off. If the emails are not coming in every five minutes, you will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy your vacation.
7. Set a Specific Time to Check Email
If you absolutely must check email, choose a specific time of day and limit yourself to an allotted amount of time. If work keeps you from sleeping at night, check email in the morning. If you are afraid work will put you in a bad mood, do not check email first thing in the morning or before excursions or activities like a nice dinner out with your family.
8. Delegate and Forward
Set a rule — if the email just requires a simple response, handle it. If it is something you can delegate, forward it to your back up for assistance. If something is going to take you too long to resolve, leave it until you return to the office.
Every situation is different and although some employers will try to force you to work during your time off, the simple fact is — if you are on vacation, you are not paid to be in the office, so don’t turn your vacation into a mobile office!