Email on vacation doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Email on vacation doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Last month we asked for your best strategies to avoid working during vacation. Like many people, M.L. Henderson of Los Angeles finds it difficult to completely cut off contact with her office. “Plus I hate spending two days catching up on emails and getting up to speed when I return from vacation. It’s almost not worth being gone!” she said.

Her solution: Check work email only in the evening when she is on vacation, and not every night.

“That way, I stay informed but don’t get caught up in back-and-forth discussions,” she explained. “I have a chance to send responses where required and weed out info-only emails. Anything that requires follow up I mark as ‘Unread’ to deal with when I return.”

She tells co-workers that she will have only intermittent access to email, so they don’t expect immediate responses. That way, “I have some flexibility and am not glued to my iPhone.” It’s not a perfect solution, she said, but it helps.

Another reader agreed with our recommendation that traveling to a spot with limited wireless access is a great way to relax. The ability to fully unplug is important to Barb Prentiss, who holds two positions with the University of Washington in Seattle: director of information technology for the School of Medicine, and director of finance and administration for the Department of Pathology.

Her best vacation was two weeks in Yellowstone National Park, after which she returned “refreshed and with the ability to look at things from a new angle.” Now Prentiss is looking forward to a trip to Alaska’s Denali area or Glacier National Park in Montana. “I hear they are beautiful and unwired!” she told us.

Discover three easy practices to minimize the time you spend on email, in this month’s Timesaving Quick Tips section at

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