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Emailing On Holiday: Stick to the Strategy

If you’re a business leader, chances are you can’t drop out of your job for a few days just because of what time of year it is. In fact, this thinking is what causes so many professionals stress on top of an already stressful holiday season – the shame of doing work when you’re supposed to be spending family time. But the answer isn’t a drop-dead “no work” rule; instead, it’s a harmony rule. And this begins with your email.

The busier your email is, the more likely you can do yourself a favor by dropping in while you’re away to mitigate the onslaught when you return. We’d recommend utilizing the five minutes or less rule, but with a vacation twist.

A good rule of thumb to prevent procrastination is that if a task can be completed in five minutes or less, to handle it when you think of it. While on vacation, decide which emails are things that you can take care of easily while not interrupting your time away and handle those.

If there are emails you can answer in a sentence or less, why not address those while away?

We recommend doing this during off-hours. Early in the morning, or at night when you’re winding down or at an airport are good times. You’re probably not doing anything else particularly important and it also reduces the chances that you’ll have immediate follow-up that can turn a quick answer into an email chain conversation.

It might seem counter-productive to decide to work on vacation, since we preach all the time about maintaining work life harmony and finding time to take off and recharge.

But, what’s the point of taking time off if all you do is put yourself into a position where as soon as you walk back into the office you’re attacked from all sides by work that was put off?

You want to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Finding some work you’re willing to do while away can help lessen the burden on those you leave behind, and lessen the blow for yourself when you get back to business.

The important part is to set boundaries and adjust expectations. No, you shouldn’t be on vacation spending all of your time answering emails, taking calls, and dealing with workplace frustrations.

But, you can certainly clear a 10 or so minute window every day during downtime to browse through email, and check in with a trusted employee that you’ve delegated work to.

Even if all you do is organize your inbox and archive/delete junk mail, you’re doing yourself a service when you return.

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