Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
It should be a no-brainer. You’re on vacation to get away from work. Therefore, having made a decision to be away from work, you should stay away from all things work. This includes email.
Today we will look at a scenario….real life…that illustrates what can happen when you answer email on your vacation.
My Most Recent Brush With This
One of the things I do as part of my current job is to respond to fast requests from my clients. This particular request came as the form of an email saying, “Please update the contact page to match the attachment. I’ll be on vacation next week.”
So I did. I did it within the context of what I do…I made it work in a responsive website. I took screen shots and sent them, fully expecting that it would be a week before I got feedback.
First thing Monday morning, I saw the email in my inbox. “I provided the format for a reason. Make it look like the spreadsheet.” My corrections were met with more emails, each more hostile than the last, including “I don’t understand why it is so difficult to do something so simple” and “just put the spreadsheet on the web.”
I was upset. After all, he hired me to do the technical work. Who was he to question how I was implementing it? I don’t tell him how to structure his accounting system. I was also very glad that I had handed in my notice earlier that week, and regretting agreeing to continue to work, even in a very limited capacity.
After two days of the back and forth, I told the client I would call him when he was back in the office.
I did this. It took five minutes, and what it turned he wanted was borders. Yes, lines delineating the text on the page.
I Am Guilty, Too
The thing is, I have been in the situation where I was on vacation and I was sending the emails. I remember the frustration and resentment that I was having to take time away from my fun to answer things that seemed perfectly clear and that could wait until I get back. I remember getting upset and letting it affect my time with where I was. I felt tied down and unable to really get away from work.
What I didn’t realize is that no one forced me to check email. I did that to myself.
I also didn’t realize that no one expected me to deal with the situation while I was on vacation. They were simply clearing out their tasks and needed input.
So the fault was entirely my own, for checking email while I was on vacation.
Why You Shouldn’t Check Email On Vacation
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t check your emails while on vacation.
- You know you should be vacationing. You go on vacation to get away from the office. To take a break. If you’re checking your emails, you aren’t taking a break.
- You will resent dealing with work. Having work intrude on your vacation will cause resentment. After all, can’t you take any time for yourself?
- You won’t take the time to truly understand. Given the pull of the vacation activities, and the resentment, you won’t take the time to fully understand the issue. Couple this with flaky technology, and you won’t take the time you would if you were at your desk.
- This will cause misunderstandings. All of these things, the haste, the resentment, the lack of a break, is a fertile ground for misunderstandings. And misunderstandings can damage working relationships, and make a bigger mess to clean up when you get back.
If It Can’t Wait, It Should Be Delegated
There are some simple ways to deal with the issues so that you don’t have to check email. First of all, if there is something that can’t wait, the delegation should be set up ahead of time. Your email and voicemail should have an autoresponder saying exactly who that person is. That person should either take care of it, or get the details for when you return.
If It Can Wait, It Should Wait Until After Vacation
The second way is to realize that if the situation can way, it should wait until you return. You don’t have to deal with it. Anything not urgent is certainly not urgent enough to pull you away from your vacation.
I learned about my own behavior by seeing it reflected in my client. I was able to see how his inability to walk away from work was something I had done many times myself. It may take some doing, but I am committed to not working when I am not working.
Over to the Readers
Have you ever experienced this, either from yourself or toward you? How did you handle it?
Photo by gruntzooki. Licensed under Creative Commons.