Way to Respect the Vacation

November 29, 2010

Posted in Leadership and Small Business.

I take vacations to get away from work. To spend more time with my family, enjoy the lake, or play camp counselor for a week in my favorite Michigan summer camp. But I have always struggled with the idea of going completely offline, because I know I’ll return to a stuffed inbox and tons of work to catch up on.

Line in the Sand photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuffin/964853217/

Blogger and researcher danah boyd takes a more disciplined stance: she has all email deleted during her vacation. Nothing gets through. She starts and finishes her vacation with inbox zero. And she lets everyone know ahead of time, as well as with a custom bounce message if somebody does email her.

As a manager, I have often called people during their vacations and had them work. Not always for real emergencies, either. I feel bad about it, every single time.

I salute your discipline, danah. Next time I’m pushed to call someone who’s earned that precious time off, I’ll remember your dedication to the vacation and its true purpose.


  1. Dan — December 08, 2010

    I’m all for unplugging and agree most Americans don’t do it well – nor simply manage email on the daily basis well. However, I don’t think it is fair to your organization or colleagues who are not on vacation to send their email to the trash. Make others aware you’re away and will not read it until you’re back – yes. Carte blanche trash every message – doesn’t seem right.

  2. Mike McCready — December 01, 2010

    This is simple yet profound post. I think being able to disconnect is a valuable skill. I think of the post I wrote last year. http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/2009/11/you-need-to-unplug/

    Vacations are critical to maintain efficiency and morale.

  3. chas — December 03, 2010

    Everyone at the office is astonished by the idea of a forwarding all emails to a permanent trash – which tells me just how hard it is for us to truly disconnect.