I’m gearing up for some time away and offline. It’s been way too long since I’ve done this and I’m really looking forward to disconnecting for a week or so. We’ve all been there, though, it’s easier said than done. It’s always so tempting to pop into email to see if there is anything really important waiting. And if you manage to not check it for an extended period of time, you return with an overflowing inbox that can take days to get through. So much for a relaxing break!
If you’re planning on taking time away this summer, I have a couple of solutions that might work for you – enabling you to enjoy your time offline without the sense of overwhelm that you may have experienced in the past.
Don’t miss anything too important
The last time I took significant time away, I used a great service called AwayFind. This service allows you to set-up a contact form autoresponse that gives the email sender an opportunity to get in touch with you if their message is urgent. Essentially, they receive an autoresponse any time they send you an email with a customized message and a contact form. If the email is crucial, they can take the time to fill out the brief Web form containing any information you want. Then, you receive a text message with the contents of the form. If it truly is urgent, you can use the AwayFind app to respond to the request without ever opening your email.
With this service (30 day free trial, or $5 per month for a single email address), you can rest assured that you won’t miss any truly important emails while you’re away. If it’s really important, the sender will take the time to fill out the form and you’ll be notified. This worked great for me on my last trip. I wasn’t nearly as tempted to check my email, and I only received two texts over the course of ten days. Unfortunately, when I returned from my time away, I had a lot of emails waiting for me. This time, I’m trying a more radical approach…
Don’t receive anything
To avoid returning to all those emails, this year I’m going to close my email inbox and send an auto response. Essentially, anyone who sends me an email while I’m away will receive this response:
Thanks for your email. I’m traveling and away from email until (date). Unfortunately, my inbox will not be receiving new mail during this time, so I won’t see your message. If your email isn’t urgent, please message me again after (date). If it is urgent and you need to get in touch with me right away, please contact…
I’m hoping that this approach will help me to enjoy my time away more than in the past. There will be no reason for me to check my inbox, since there will be literally nothing there. And those that really need to get in touch with me will have a way to do so. It may be that some people won’t be happy receiving this message. I hope, though, that more often than not, people will understand and perhaps use the same strategy the next time they need to get away.
How do you handle email when you want to take time away?
Please post your comments below.