Staying on top of your email while on holiday can be challenging, daunting and stressful, when you’re meant to be relaxing.

However, there’s always the dread of returning to hundreds, if not thousands of emails and spending an anxious first day, overwhelmed and trying to catch up.

It’s impossible to avoid the constant influx of messages unless you manage to redirect them all to the trash bin. And the fear of missing important information or opportunities can make it difficult to fully disconnect while you’re away.

The need to respond to emails varies from business. Some requests are more time critical than others, sometimes when you are your business, there’s no one else to respond.

I’ve been talking to a few clients recently about this exact thing. So, I thought I’d share a few practical tips, specifically relating to managing your email while on holiday.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Before you leave, set up an automated out-of-office reply. Most people have got used to using these. It’s interesting to see what comes back when other are taking time off.

Depending on who’s likely to read or receive, make sure it’s clear and informative.

• How long you’re away from the office.

• What date you return (to the office).

• Who to contact - if you have one.

• Whether you’re checking email while you’re away (the default response is no!)

An Out Of Office can even be used if you’re away from the office for a day or two and unlikely to be checking emails.

This is the first point for managing your emails. It lets your clients, customers and anyone else know you’re away from the office and not to expect a response during that time.

Don't forget to set this for both inside and outside your organisation. It may require different responses.

Make sure you remember to switch it off on your return!

2. Establish Specific Check-in Times

For peace of mind or when you don’t have an alternate contact. Instead of constantly checking your email while on holiday, designate a specific time during the day to check your inbox.

Depending on the time zone, this might be:

• first thing in the morning,

• in the evening before going out

• while relaxing by the pool

• during an afternoon siesta.

You can stay up-to-date without disrupting your holiday time, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s plans.

3. Limit Time on Email While on Holiday

Set a strict time limit each day for checking and responding to emails. Avoid getting sucked in and spending hours managing your email.

Instead focus on doing the minimum needed to stay on top of your Inbox and still enjoy your holiday.

4. Use A Placeholder Email

Send a quick placeholder email. No more than a couple of lines to let them know you’re on holiday, when to expect a response or further information. If it’s a quick yes/no answer, this may be enough and is one less thing to be delayed until you return.

5. Use Email/Productivity Apps

Certain email management and productivity apps have features such as snooze, scheduled responses or automatic prioritising of messages. These will either automate the response or make it quicker for you to filter and organise your email, even while you’re away.

6. Reflect on Email Habits

Lastly, use your holiday as an opportunity to reflect on your email habits and consider ways you can improve how you manage your email generally.

Are you able to switch off when you go away on holiday or do you find yourself being constantly and reluctantly drawn into work?

What could you do to streamline your communication process or reduce unnecessary emails in the future?

We provide email holiday cover to our clients so that they don’t have to spend time working when away.

We would only interrupt them if there was something that couldn’t wait until they return, and these instances are normally agreed before they go away. This way they return to only the emails they need to deal with, rather than the usual 100’s they would normally expect after two weeks away.

Managing your email while on holiday doesn't have to be stressful or time-consuming.

Remember, a well-managed inbox allows you to fully recharge and return to work with renewed energy and focus. So, embrace and enjoy your holiday knowing that your emails are under control.

And if they're not ... get in touch.

Already been away on holiday? Save this for next time.