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Emailing On Holiday: Managing Expectations

This time of year is especially popular for vacations and days off. With the holidays already underway, it’s important you don’t resent your days off, since establishing work life harmony makes you happier, healthier, and more productive. But there’s no feeling worse than getting thrust back to reality after drinking eggnog by the fire - and part of the reason to blame is your email.

So what can you do to mitigate this crisis and help to ease you back into the workday without jolting you back?

Your first, most obvious step is to set up an absence message or a vacation message. Truthfully, you’re not going to be able to tell every single person you’ve come into contact via work that you’re away.

Another trick is to set that response to start firing your last day of work, NOT your first day away. Experts suggest setting it for the last few hours of your last day in the office.

This’ll accomplish two things: it’ll give you some space to wrap up everything you must wrap up before leaving, and it’ll help to prevent new last-minute projects from popping up. Your goal is to set expectations. Speaking of which: be sure to communicate to your superiors and coworkers said expectations.

The reality is that you’re probably not going to be able to completely disappear off the face of the Earth for a vacation, especially if you’re a leader at your business. There will be things you’re going to need to address, even while away. Set up boundaries and expectations.

What constitutes an emergency that you’re okay with being reached about? What’s something that someone else can handle entirely for you and what things can just wait?

Make all of that clear, and perhaps include that into your out-of-office message. Let people reaching out to you know how and what they CAN reach out to you with, and who they should reach instead.

What all of these precautionary steps have in common is that they work to manage expectations of the people who might need you while you’re away. It also sets and manages your own expectations.

As a business leader, you’re never going to be able to completely separate yourself and your life from your work - it’s the logical fallacy of trying to create a perfect work-life balance.

What you need to strive for is work life harmony; living in a circumstance where work isn’t necessarily in a box outside of your life, but that they live simultaneously and co-exist without making you feel like you need to sacrifice one entirely for the other.

The same goes for while you’re away. You can’t ditch your job entirely, but you can find a way to control how to affects your personal life and how your personal life affects it.

The holidays are stressful enough – don’t let them affect you negatively at work! Stay tuned for more tips on handling email correspondence this holiday season.

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