Could You Go a Week without Checking Work Email?

Do you feel obligated to check work email while on vacation?

pablo (31)I was on vacation this week.

And I didn’t respond to one email. In fact, I didn’t check it all week.

Could you go on vacation and not check your work email?

Working While on Vacation

I write often about how technology can be a great productivity enabler. It allows us to work in ways and places never before possible.

The irony is that technology can also be one of the biggest time wasters in the workplace. It is estimated that many corporate workers spend up to a third of their time in their email inbox.

As well, it can also be a leash that ties employees to their work 24/7/365.

Which gets back to my question…

Recently, I was at a social event where someone commented about a co-worker that was not serious about their job. The story continued that the co-worker didn’t bother to reply to emails while they were on vacation.

I responded, “They were on vacation with family. Did you really want them to be working while on vacation?”

The other person said, “Well, no. But, they could have at least responded to my email.”

What???

Escaping the Email Trap

The most disturbing part of the above conversation is that the individual equated “not checking email while on vacation” with not be a serious employee.

Without starting a full-blown debate on work-life balance, I believe that you should not be checking your work email while on vacation.

Here are several tips to help you Escape Your Work Email while on Vacation:

  • Set Expectations – Simply setting expectations in your absence is a powerful method of preventing many communication issues. Make sure people know you are out of the loop. When I am on vacation, I ensure that my out-of-office notification clearly states that I will be away and who to contact in my absence.
  • Trust Your Team – Too many leaders want to “be in on every decision.” You need to trust your team to make decisions and act in your absence. No one person should be indispensable to operations. And if they are,  you aren’t empowering your people.
  • Reachable for Emergencies – Maybe not for the general population, but my boss and my direct reporting manager could reach me via text or Slack.

Unplug and Enjoy

Technology empowers us to get work done while on the go, and in more efficient ways than ever before.

Yet, you need to unplug when you are on vacation.  Make sure your vacation is just that, a vacation. Recharge your body and mind.

Use your vacation to reconnect with what is most important. When you look back, you will not remember that “important email” you had to handle, you will remember the fun adventures that you had with those that are closest to you.

Question: Do you check work email while you are on vacation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Michael

    It’s been so long since I have been on vacation!

    But, it is so hard for me to unplug my brain not to go there and think about work and what I am missing.

    I will have to implement these tips on my next vacation.

    Thank you

  • Ella

    I check my email but i dont act on it. I only make a to do list for when i come back. I do this because i hate to come back to like a milion emails. Its easer for me to come back with a list of to do. Less stressed this way

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  • This is so true. Not only for work email but generally technology.
    Could you go one day without your phone? Or without internet? I think that’s something we need to learn: unplug ourselves.

    Cool post!

  • Erik Engh

    Great Post. I am fortunate that I cannot receive my work emails at home. I do allow my direct reports and supervisors to text/call me while I am on vacation or traveling for work. It is really hard to completely unplug from technology since I rely on my tablet to read digital books.

  • Tess Marshall

    Yes, I can unplug easily. I leave my work phone at home and let it run out of charge. I try to get in an hour early first day back to make a head start on sorting emails out, but as you suggest, I leave explicit contact re-directions on my out of office and completely trust my colleagues to deal with anything urgent while I’m away. As I hope they do me in return.