How to Manage Your Emails and Enjoy Your Holiday Too (Part 1)

email computer shockIt’s often the last thing on your mind and the final thing you do (if you do it at all).  The holiday time can be a frenetic build up to the last day in the office and suddenly it’s handover time.   It’s really easy to leave this important piece completely and ‘hope for the best’ or to do it in 30 seconds and think it’ll be good enough.

As we’re gearing up to our Summer 2013 here, let me show you what I mean and the difference it makes. The ‘important piece’ I’m referring to is this.  How you decide (or if you decide) to manage your emails and inbox whilst you’re on holiday. You’ll notice I said ‘how you decide’ because it is a decision you make and it’s one that affects the quality of your holiday and the ease of your ‘re-entry’ after your holiday.

If you’re travelling on business it’s different.  Keeping in touch via your phone/remote email is easy enough now and a gap in timezones is usually manageable.  There are still some steps you can take to make that easier and these are steps which buy you a huge amount of credit from those who are emailing you.

If I ask you “What happens when you’re on your holiday, spending time with friends and family and your emails just keep coming?”  You’re most likely to tell me one of these three responses:

  1. They just go into my inbox and just pile up until I return
  2. I keep opening them and responding to them whilst I’m away
  3. I go away and leave an email bounce-back for people

Well, as a savvy and influential communicator, managing your profile, your clients, your energy whilst you’re ‘Out of the Office’ plays a big part in how effective the holiday time is for you and how connected – or disconnected – you feel towards your holiday companions whilst you’re away.

Let’s think about the effects of making any one of these three decisions:

“They just go into my inbox and just pile up until I return”

It’s great to leave the office and go and refresh and reboot yourself.  The thing about just leaving your inbox and walking away is the effect it has on you whilst you’re away as you anticipate the return to “Inbox Full” or lots of repeat messages from people wondering if you got their original message.  You can use a lot of energy even though you’re lying on a sun-bed or swimming in the sea as you wonder about things from a distance.

“Just walk away” has great merits and it also has a price.  Your clients, customers and colleagues wonder about your commitment to them and, if they experience you being away while leaving them ‘hanging’ until your return, it says a lot about how you are as a person to do business with.

A simple, clear bounce-back solves this and tells the person you’ve thought about them and catered for them whilst you’re away.  The trick is what that bounce-back says…..

“I keep opening them and responding to them whilst I’m away”

Whether you’re a business owner yourself or whether you work within a business, this is so easy to do and has as many benefits as it does drawbacks.

Obvious Benefits:  you keep your email box under control; you keep in touch; you tell people what they need and want from you; you stay in the loop; you return from holiday and you’re up-to-date, you can ‘hit the ground running’.

Obvious Drawbacks: your mind and energy kept focusing on work-related ‘stuff’; your attention was divided a lot of the time between relaxing and responding to your emails; people around you got less of your down-time self;  a lot of the time you could have been in the office as you notice less of your holiday surroundings; if anything, you got irritated with your surroundings as they distracted you.

This is a tricky one to balance.  Keeping in touch and then switching off.  When you keep focusing on work and what’s going on with it, you drastically reduce the amount of energy you rebuild whilst you’re on holiday.  We all know that changes of pace, of scenery and of thinking are the measure by which most of us gauge our holiday.  Why do you think it is so many people save up their reading up from holiday to holiday?  They crave that time and space to throw themselves into their books, hobbies, sandcastle-building…whatever it is.

If you do decide to keep opening and responding to your emails whilst you’re away, put some structure in.  Use that bounce-back and agree with yourself, your colleagues, your family how and when you’ll read your messages.  The structure you put in will give you the freedom to enjoy the time out.  Without it you can end up being ‘business as usual’.

“I go away and leave an email bounce-back for people?”

My response to clients here is always ‘great’ and then my next question is ‘tell me what your bounce-back says and what’s the point of it?’

I’ve seen some ‘corkers’ in my time – both received them from people and also been shown them by clients:

  • “I’m out of the office for 2 weeks” – no idea when you went, when  you’re coming back, what I should do whilst you’re away…
  • “I’m on holiday, please call Ann Smith if it’s urgent” – no idea for how long, no idea who Ann Smith is and no email or phone number for Ann Smith (whoever she is)…
  • “I’m away from the office until DATE, I’ll be in touch again then” – at least we know how long you’re away but what do we do in the meantime?

You can get here that if you’re using the bounce-back, make it helpful, think about who will receive it and what you want them to think about you when they do!

As far as what I would recommend – that’s your decision.  Only you know what your holiday is for and about, what’s going on in your business and what the point is of reading your emails whilst you’re away.  A combination of 1, 2 and 3 is powerful.

We’ll explore combining 1, 2, and 3 above in next week’s article and I’ll set out some simple, thoughtful and easy structures for you to slot your bounce-backs into, plus how to position what you decide to do about this with your holiday companions and work colleagues.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – “I’m away from the office at the moment” – the sun’s shining!

Here’s a helpful, immediate gift for you. ‘Why don’t you just ASK?’ (A downloadable MP3 recording & summary sheet showing you how and why you must come forward and ask for what you want in business. Do it in a way which is comfortable for you AND in a way which makes it easy, and compelling, for the other person to say YES to you. No more choking, stumbling, fretting or stalling. Just ask and then expect to receive.)

About the author

Kay White is our Show Up & Sparkle blogger. Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert for Ambitious Women in Business, Kay shows professional women how to attract promotion, recognition and rewards at work without feeling they have to ’sell their soul. Kay shows her clients, who are corporate career women at all different stages of their careers, how to naturally attract more income and opportunity all while being true to themselves. Combining strategic moves with influencing skills plus compelling and assertive language and powerful mindsets, Kay draws on her own 20+ years corporate career in the very male-dominated world of London insurance broking. She started at 18 as a Secretary and left as a Director to start her own business. Hosting an annual 3-day Event for corporate women “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” Kay encourages and shows women how to be the best, most valuable version of themselves. Kay is author of the Number 1 Best-Seller “The A to Z of Being Understood” and you can connect and find out more from Kay at : www.kaywhite.com.

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