Email & Vacation – Auto Response Experiment

What if your email could manufacture time?waiting

This vacation, write the clearest Auto Response or Out of Office message…ever.

Tell emailers how to get answers to their questions. Let them know when you will return, and how you will respond.

Then, enjoy your vacation!

Note what happens.

Did your clear auto-response help carve out interruption-free vacation time?

If so, ask yourself, “Could this work when I am in the office?”.

After all, couldn’t you use you some email-free time everyday?



Email & Vacation – Do Not Cross

You say you cannot ignore your email this vacation.

Maybe you are knee-deep in a critical project.

Try securing the perimeters of your email time instead.

Picture “Do Not Cross” tape around the times of day you intend to work email on vacation.

No matter what, nothing crosses the lines.

Take back control, and show your email who is boss!


Email & Vacation – Disappearing Act Experiment


Want to make your email disappear this vacation?

How about making your  laptop or tablet disappear?  Try hiding it in a really inconvenient place.  Or better yet, leave it back at work. Note to self:  Leave some breadcrumbs or draw a treasure map to find the device when vacation is over. The map is the secret ingredient.  Trust me on this.


Email & Vacation – Phone Coverup Experiment

Looking for a way to use your Smartphone but not be tempted to read email on vacation?

Remove your email account(s) from the Start Screen.

Now you can text and call without the constant reminder of unread email.

Out of sight, out of mind!

Note to self:  Be careful not to delete the account from your device.

Doesn’t that feel better?


Email & Vacation – Process Stress Test Experiment

Ever wonder how your processes run without you?runner

Find out on your next vacation.

This vacation, resist the urge to jump into problem solving in email. Instead, use your vacation as an opportunity to stress test your processes.

When you return, take the time to capture the problems that arise and plan process improvement efforts around them.

Make this vacation work for you!


Email Alternatives

Email is easy.  It gives you a written record of your communication.  It works great in an asynchronous environment. It is almost instantaneous.

And it so convenient that you can actually forget that you have other communication tools in your toolbox.

But email is not always the best communication choice.  It lacks nuance.  It does a bad job conveying humor. And it is easily misinterpreted.

The next time you need to communicate more than just information, try a richer communication tool.  You will save yourself time and get better results.

 – Barbara Ivey

How quickly to respond to email?

This question came up with a team I worked with recently. My answer was that it depends on the culture of the organization.

Senior members of organization usually set the email response bar. If the VP is an “Email at 4 a.m.” person, the team culture reflects that in various ways.

But my clients were seeing the opposite. Some of their younger team members actually expected to hear back on email quicker than the VP.

Why? Well, likely because they are Digital Natives. Digital Natives are the generation who grew up on the web. To them, an unanswered email is like a blank stare. Crickets singing to the empty night.

In Trust Agents, authors / bloggers Chris Brogan and Julien Smith provide insight into the Digital Native’s world. Digital Natives expect prompt responses to email, blog postings, Facebook, you name it. No matter how small, they want to hear back. And they expect apologies for slow responses. A quick “I’ll get back to you” response to a Digital Native confirms the message was received – and often is enough of a response for now.

However, not all senior organization members can or will work like this.

One solution to reconcile differing email expectations is response time management. Senior leaders let the team know that unless an email or voicemail is flagged as urgent, they typically expect a response within X# hours. They can also share that they check email X# times per day to set team expectations about when their email will be read. This empowers team members to manage their time better. With this knowledge, they may choose to invest their prime work time in key client facing work and work on team collaboration at other times.

As teams reclaim time for high priority work, expectation setting is a great tool to enhance collaboration.