With the 4th of July weekend right ahead of us, the summer vacation season is heating up fast. Preparing for the holidays may have you thinking about barbecue menus, researching last year’s beach inflatables, and shopping for that new swimsuit.
But to really prepare for a summer getaway, you need to plan your emails. Yes, emails!
Planning ahead and using the right out of office message can drastically reduce the pile of emails just waiting to clutter up those wonderful vacation memories straight from your brain.
These tips from Michigan Medicine CEO Marschall Runge, MD, Ph.D., and his task force on time and stress management can help you take control of your inbox and make your return to life easier. professional life.
Make a backup plan
You might have concerns about taking an entire week (or more) with so many projects going on. Leaders also worry about team members who need their guidance.
To reduce pre-holiday anxiety, leaders should work with their teams to ensure there is balanced coverage for essential work tasks while they or others are out of the office, while that peers can pair up and trade related tasks while on vacation.
Once this is decided, explain your backup plan to your peers and clients, and indicate who will answer immediate tasks and questions directly in your out of office message. Rather than delegating, think of it as a way to teach others and promote independence – a win-win for everyone.
Here are more tips on how to use your chain of command to leave your “working brains” behind during your summer vacation.
Put down your phone and delete notifications
Consider writing down your trip and related information on paper to minimize how often you use technology. Reduce the temptation to check work email, Microsoft Teams, or other work-related social media channels by adjusting or disabling alerts or disabling notifications altogether for certain apps. Watch this video on how to toggle or set alerts.
You can easily use Outlook’s Do Not Disturb feature for set times and days. Here are more Outlook tips and tricks from Microsoft to help you manage and reduce your inbox.
Let your away message work for you
Many out of office emails tell us when you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back, but lack instructions on how to send your requests to prevent emails – with requests or information important – don’t stay in your inbox for days after you return. Below are some helpful examples of how you can rephrase your out of office message to help you and those who want your opinion.
The Time and Stress Management Task Force recognizes that each individual and each team is unique within our organization. Many professors and clinical staff do not follow “normal working hours” or delegate tasks differently between team members and from shift to shift.
Simply adapt and customize the language of your message accordingly.
“Thank you for your patience with my response. I’m away from emails via MMDDYYYY, taking a break and counting on my team to get things done in my absence. Please contact XX for Y, XX for needs Z, or hold your message if it’s not urgent until I get back.
“I will be out of the office via MMDDYY and will not be checking my emails. If the issue specifically requires my attention and can await my return, please send your email after MMDDYY so that it is in top of my inbox for review.If your request is urgent, please contact XYZ for a more immediate response.
Thank you for your email. I’m away from my desk and emailing via MMDDYY, relaxing and enjoying a break from work. I hope you understand that during this period many emails will pile up in my inbox with little time to respond to each one in a timely manner upon my return. If this is an important question, please resend your email after MMDDYY. Thanks for understanding.
Are you going on a “staycation” or taking a short wellness break? Planning also helps here.
In this new, remote, hybrid world, many will take breaks from “normal working hours” or go on short vacations with the intention of taking time off to catch up on work. Informing your team and others of your plans and the unusual schedule you can meet can help manage expectations about when and how you can respond to incoming emails.
It also creates an opportunity to explain that you don’t expect answers beyond “normal working hours” and show how you embrace wellness and help them understand this need for yourself and for them. others.
Below are some suggested out-of-office messages and expressions that you can use as a template to create your own custom reply.
I will be away from (hour/day) for a short break from work. I do this for wellness reasons and I encourage you to do the same. During this period) I work flexibly and can email outside normal working hours. Your immediate response is not expected.
Please know that I honor and respect boundaries regarding personal time and vacations. This is essential for improving well-being at work. I can send or respond to emails outside normal working hours, whichever suits my work schedule best. I don’t expect a response outside normal working hours.
I choose to work flexibly and send emails outside normal office hours. Feel free to read, act or reply at a time that suits you.
Due to my vacation and working life schedules, you may receive emails from me outside of normal working hours. Please do not feel obligated to respond outside of your own working hours.
For more tips on how to reduce unnecessary emails and meetings, you can read the “Do you really need to send this email?” section. Make headlines or visit these other wellness resources from the Time and Stress Management Task Force.