From The Rock

Going on Vacation? Tips to Help Navigate Your Workload and Inbox

By | January 09, 2014

Although we all just returned from holiday vacations, we’ll soon be looking forward to Spring Break and warm weather getaways. The most dreaded task for a vacation any size? The mountainous inbox you will return to whether it be from a short four-day weekend or **gasp** a two-week-long vacation. No worries, here are some tips before you leave, some advice while you’re gone and, of course, some help on how to tackle it upon your return.
  • Communicate to your co-workers and superiors when you’ll be gone, how long you’ll be gone and provide them some way to contact you if they absolutely must reach you in the case of an emergency.
  • Establish someone to act as a point of contact for your clients while you’re away. Yes, it’s normal to take a vacation, but you also can’t leave your clients high and dry for a week either.
  • Inform your clients, vendors and other day-to-day business contacts about your upcoming leave, how long you’ll be gone and whom they should contact for urgent work and emergencies.
  • Set up your work email to forward to your go-to-coworker while you are away. If possible, shut off your email for that period. You’ve alerted everyone you will be gone and not receiving emails, so it is unrealistic for them to send you emails anyway and expect you to receive them after the previous warnings.
During Your Vacation
  • Take your vacation! You’ve put things into place in order to take time off, relax and rejuvenate, so do it! People know how to reach you if they absolutely have to speak with you about an urgent matter (hotel room info, alternate email, contact person, etc.), so relax and attend to yourself. Most likely the company you work for was successful before you arrived, and they aren’t going to fail simply because you took some time off. Do yourself a favor and unplug. Don’t know how? Fast Company, U.S.News,LinkedIn, Forbes, andMindBodyGreen all have tips and advice for unplugging.


  • Reach out to your superiors, co-workers, clients and day-to-day contacts — either in person, phone call or via email — to let them know you’re back at work and touch base about any developments that occurred while you were away.
  • If you still received a ton of emails while you were gone, turn it into manageable steps. Sort your emails by sender and delete all of the newsletters, notifications, spam, etc. These do not need your immediate attention in the grand scheme of things. Then sort by subject, and get rid of all of the forwarded and emails that aren’t important (look at this funny link, long conversation on something that isn’t relevant anymore, etc.). Quickly look over the emails you were only copied on, and trash the ones that aren’t important.
  • You’re email box should now be to a manageable size. Now, respond to the emails that will take all of two minutes to read and respond to and get them out of the way. Go through the remaining emails, and add them to your list of actual work to get caught up on.
  • Finally, don’t get too wrapped up in email. Chances are you knew prior to leaving for vacation what things needed to be accomplished upon your return. Which is more important — crafting and distributing a news release for an upcoming client event or taking 20 minutes to read a brainstorm email where everyone decided the idea was a no-go at the end? This is why my first post vacation tip is key; reach out to those parties, they’ll let you know the important things, that way you can get back to getting actual work done, rather than swimming in a sea of emails.

Do you have any useful tips for preparing for, unplugging or catching up post-vacation? Share them in the comments below!