5 Tips For Managing Your Inbox on Vacation [Out of Office Email Templates Included]

Executing on Plans / August 15, 2019 / Kristie

For entrepreneurs, work doesn’t stop when you go on vacation. You still have clients to service, projects to execute on, and emails that don’t seem to ever stop.

While you may not be able to completely get away from work, your vacation shouldn’t suffer at the mercy of your inbox. 

Taking vacation – even if it’s a just a “staycation” – to get some time away from work is important for a healthy work-life balance. You need a break time to time to avoid burnout. 

“Detaching from work is crucial to recharge my batteries. It also forces me to pull back from the day to day and reflect on where the business is headed. I’ve often had my most important insights that have helped shaped our future plans while disconnecting on vacation. Having said that, I do find being completely disconnected stressful so I allow myself to check email once daily while on vacation. This helps put my mind at ease and be able to react in the rare case an emergency comes up.”
– Michael Clark, COO of Marketcircle

In a recent survey, we asked entrepreneurs about their work and email habits. It was no surprise to find that 78% of entrepreneurs surveyed said they checked their work email while on vacation. 

While you still want to be on top of your business, it’s important that you dedicate time to de-stress and recharge.

Here are 5 tips to help you stay on top of your inbox without it ruining your vacation:

tips for managing email while on vacation - out of office email templates included

Prime your staff before your vacation

In the weeks leading up to your vacation, be proactive and prime your staff. Set proper processes and procedures in place with your team so they’re aware of what to expect and how to proceed in various situations. Risk planning and contingency planning never hurt anyone.

To do this, it’s helpful to ask your team to write down a list of any potential scenarios where they may need to contact you or questions they have before you leave. Answer each one so they have it written down and can refer back to these instructions while you’re away. 

For example, are there any clients or new leads that may be getting in touch about your services? If so, how should your staff handle those situations? Are there any projects that have milestones coming up that your team should be aware of? Is there a time you’ll be available if they need to email you a list of questions or hurdles they run into?

Daylite Tip: You can use a note in Daylite and set the Category as “Procedure” so these instructions are organized in one place and shared with your team. Read this article for instructions. 

Leverage your auto-response 

Before going on vacation, setup an auto-response email. In this case, it’s best to under promise and over deliver. Even if you plan on checking email while you’re away, set an auto-response that says you’ll be away and won’t be checking email. This way you’re able to meter expectations with clients and if you are able to reply back to them during your holiday, they’ll be impressed, not impatient. 

To avoid setting your clients into a panic, make sure to leave a phone number or email that people can reach you at in case of emergency. The ideal situation would be to also include a point of contact in case a client needs urgent help but you’re unable to assist them.

Use this template for your out of office email response:

Thank you for your email. I’m currently on vacation and I am not available. I’ll be returning on [date] and will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

If this is urgent, please contact [secondary contact] at [phone number and/or email]. 

If you’re a solopreneur and don’t have a secondary contact, you can use this instead:

Thank you for your email. I’m currently on vacation and I am not available. I’ll be returning on [date] and will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

If this is urgent, you can contact me at [hotel name and phone number or alternative phone number you can be reached at].

Set specific times to check email

If you’re going to check your work email while you’re on vacation, set a schedule for when you’ll be checking work email and stick to it. Block off a specific time in your calendar ahead of time for when you’ll be checking email – whether once a day or just a few times during the week. 

By preparing mentally to only check email at certain times, you’ll be better prepared to ignore that email notification on your phone because you’ve already committed to only checking email at certain times.

This allows you to enjoy your vacation while still knowing you can be on top of anything.

Hold yourself to that schedule. If you’re giving yourself 30 mins or an hour each day, stick to that time frame and don’t allow yourself to get dragged down the email rabbit hole. If you’ve only given yourself 30 minutes a day that ends up not being enough time to process your inbox, use that time to skim your inbox so you can address anything urgent and make the most use of that 30 minutes.

Daylite Tip: Use Daylite’s Apple Mail integration on Mac or Daylite Mail for iPhone & iPad to process your inbox following the Inbox Zero methodology.

Delegate as much as possible

During the 30 minutes or hour a day that you’ve allocated for checking your work email while you’re on vacation, delegate as much as possible.

As you’re processing your emails, ask yourself each time if there’s something that needs to be actioned and if there’s someone else that can handle it. Wherever possible, delegate it to someone on your team. 

If you want to scale your business and be able to enjoy more vacations, you need to trust in your team and delegate more responsibility. You can’t scale your business if you’re having to oversee everything – you’ll become the bottleneck. Trust in your team and give them more ownership and autonomy. 

Daylite Tip: As you’re processing your inbox and something needs to be actioned that can be done by someone else on your team, create a task and delegate it. This can be done right from your inbox either using Daylite’s Apple Mail integration on the Mac, or using Daylite Mail for iPhone & iPad.

Leverage your auto-response when you return

When you return from vacation, keep your email auto-response turned on for a few days as you catch up. You’ll want to tweak the message in the auto-response to set the proper expectation. In this case you’ll want to let people know you’re back from vacation, but may need longer than usual to catch up and get back.

Here is an example:

Thanks for your email. I’m recently back from vacation and may take longer than usual to get back. I appreciate your patience as I get caught up and will get back to you as soon as I can. 

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful for you to manage your inbox while on vacation. We’re big believers in the importance of work-life balance and taking vacation or at least time to zoom-out is a big component of that. 

About the author:
Kristie Holden is an online marketing consultant. She helps startups get more leads by clarifying their message and creating a marketing strategy to attract and convert their ideal client. Connect with her on Instagram.

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