Disconnect on Leave

Hi! This is Cyril from Work Smarter Live Better. In this video I want to talk about a topic that is current for a lot of people which is, “How do we avoid going on leave and while we’re on leave being really stressed with email?”

I’m at the moment in New York and I wish you could see in the background there is supposed to be a beautiful view of the whole Manhattan. There’s fog today so there’s not much view to be shared, but after my trip in New York and in a few places around the world, I’m going to come back, have a few days and then, we’re on leave. We’re on a holiday, which is wonderful.

But for a lot people holiday has not become as wonderful as it used to be because while you’re on holiday, we’re still checking email, we’re stressed, and in a way we carry some of the stress from the work in our holiday.

So a lot of people really fail to disconnect. I have more and more people and managers saying to me: “I can’t disconnect from email in evening, I can’t disconnect from email in weekends, and now is, I can’t disconnect from email during my leave”.

There’s a few issues here. First, it starts eating our time on leave, you know, the time you spend on email while you are on leave, it’s time that you don’t spend with your family, with your hobby, and so on, that’s number one.

The second thing is not only the time but what it’s doing here. You might only check fifteen or half an hour per day some email, but you might carry the whole day the stress that, you know, something you think about, “Oh I forgot to do this and I need to do this” and it stresses you and you don’t really switch off.

And the third problem now here, is people said to me, “when I come back from leave, I have two, three, four, five, hundred or thousand emails waiting for me and I dread that day when I’m going to come back.”

So how can we avoid on leave or back from leave stress with email? There’s a few things, the first one is, “Be smart with out of office.” What do I mean by be smart with out of office? Before you go on leave, use your out of the office smartly. Put an out of office message that say, “I’m going to be on leave until the fifteen of January, during my leave I will have no access to my email. If anything urgent either call this person, email this person or call me on my mobile or SMS me on my mobile.” I can guarantee there’s very few cases where people will have to call you.

Or a little milder version, “While I’m on leave, I have limited access to my email, if urgent, call me on this number.” You can have a system with the person where you say, “contact this person while I’m on leave” and you’re on your iPhone, you suddenly nominate this person as VIP and you only check the email from that person. So try not to check your email while you’re on leave and put a system with the out of office.

Number two. I call that the, “One hour per day away”. What do I mean by one hour per day away? Don’t check your email when you’re on leave, but the day you come back, block time to catch up. And the one hour per day away, if you’re away a week for example, keep five hours which is half a day that you block.

So rather than coming back on Monday morning straight to the office, why not spending the first half day on catching up or maybe blocking the first day. The Monday you stay at home, you catch up with your email and then you only come back in the office on Tuesday and you tell the people you only back on Tuesday, but when you’re back you’ve caught up on all these backlog and you’re in control. That’s my second advice.

My third advice is, if you’ve got a big team, forbid email from your team. You said to your team, “While I’m away you are not allowed to send me an email, but the day I come back I give you thirty minutes each, we have a quick catch up. While I’m away, if there’s something really important, write it down on a list and we’ll go through that list when I come back.” And I can guarantee half of what they’re going to put on their list while you are away to talk to you, by the time you come back it’s been solved, they found a solution by themselves. And you batch this communication and you avoid coming with a lot of email from your team.

There’s now some company who go further than that. They actually ban email from people when they’re on leave and they have an automatic thing that the server stops sending you email while you’re on leave, which I think is beautiful.

This is this week’s Work Smarter Live Better tip. Love to know how you can make your leave better, how you can avoid jumping on email all the time while you’re on leave. Any trick that you have, please share it with everyone below and we can share with everyone and it’s always very useful. Thank you very much and you have a lovely day! Cheers.

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