Looking forward to a long awaited summer vacation, but dread being tethered to your cell phone or email? How available “should” you be? How much is enough?
It depends: on your organizational culture; the nature and profile of the projects you are working on; your back up plan; and most importantly, what you decide to do to manage phone calls /emails BEFORE you leave.
Before you zip your suitcase, decide now how available you want and need to be. Agree with your manager and colleagues how accessible you will be. Discuss outstanding projects and critical issues that may require your input. Then, establish how accessible you will be should they need to connect with you. It’s reasonable to take a 15 minute call, or briefly check your emails. But attending a conference call while lounging poolside is not a great description of an ideal vacation.
You can also opt to delegate to subordinates and colleagues. Consider your absence as an opportunity to offer stretch assignments and cross training. Ask colleagues if they will step into your role to address any outstanding issues, and in exchange reciprocate when they go on vacation. Often colleagues can address immediate concerns and de-escalate issues, avoiding those urgent/low priority calls and emails during your vacation.
Now, how to manage the deluge of emails. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just not worth being completely off-line or unplugged as you spend hours catching up when you return. If emails are getting in the way of a relaxing vacation, before you leave determine when and how often you will check in. 15-20 minutes of scanning your email inbox will help you stay on top of what’s going on back at the office.
You can breathe easier now as you have a strategy in place to mitigate those unnecessary phone calls and emails, are in the loop for any critical issues, and still have lots of time to enjoy your vacation.
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional