In the age of technology, many employers expect that since their employees are generally tethered to their mobile devices, out-of-office response times to inbound emails and inquiries should be quick. This behavior is something that is also becoming more and more expected when employees go on vacation. Many employees actually do wish to stay a bit connected during vacation, in order to avoid inbox overflow when they get back, and to prevent being a bottleneck if urgent questions arise while they are away.
So how does one balance the ability to both have fun during vacation and be a bit productive? Here are a few tips for doing so!
Carve out a specific time of day for work, and stick to it. If you have travel companions,nothing is worse for them (or you) than having you be glued to your mobile device while everyone is trying to have fun at the beach, or while bowling. So try to carve out a time, perhaps first thing in the a.m., or just before happy hour, to get caught up on the most important work on your to-do list. Whether it’s two hours or 15 minutes, simply manage the expectations of those who are with you ahead of time, and then you can be productive for a bit and get on with the fun.
Prioritize. Don’t try to accomplish or respond to everything in your inbox—remember, you are on vacation! It’s as important to rest your mind and get recharged away from work as it is to be able to sleep in a bit and have fun. Be sure to prioritize the work that is most critical to get done, and that which can truly wait until your return from vacation.
Make sure to set your "Out of Office" message. People tend to respect the time of those who are on vacation, and are a bit more flexible in their expectation of response time when they see an "Out of Office" message. So be sure to set that before you go away; let people know the frequency with which you will be checking emails while you are away, as well as when you will be returning.
If you have a big vacation project, set aside a larger amount of time. If you are on vacation for a week and have a large project or an abundance of work, consider setting aside one whole day to get the work done. Ideally, that time is at the beginning of the vacation so that you can get the work out of the way and go about the rest of your vacation worry-free!
So remember, vacations are critically important for restoring your energy and verve for the work you do during the rest of the year. Make sure to carve out time to rest that brain. If you do have to work, hopefully some of these tips are helpful when considering how to balance both work and play during your vacation.