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Tequila, Email, or Both?

Posted: | Author: for Creatives On Call

COC employee Kathryn on vacation in South America.

Ah, vacation season. When you’re on vacation, you love it, when you’re sitting at your desk seeing other’s post pictures of their beaches and cocktails, you hate it. But nevertheless, it’s here. 

 My name is Kathryn Sturm, I am the Marketing Manager at Creatives On Call and have worked in almost every work-style in the creative industry since graduating college. From big agencies, to small agencies, start-ups, in-house, and then two years working for myself, I’ve dealt with every aspect of taking time off as I am an avid traveler. From three weeks in Spain, two weeks in Peru, to weekend trips to NYC, I’ve done it all and when it comes to getting away yet staying on top of things, I’m your girl. 

So you are going on vacation, maybe it’s a long one or maybe it’s a short one but you also are a responsible human who has a job - how do you make that work? Are you the person who totally unplugs completely and deals with a pile of paperwork and emails when you get back? Or are you the person who sacrifices some vacation time to check in once in a while and do some work while out? 

Let’s discuss.

First, let’s start with the basics. Do you need to work on vacation? Here’s a list of questions you can ask yourself to see if working a bit on vacation is something you’ll need to pull off:

• Do you have a huge project due when you are back?

• Are you a manager? / Do people rely on your input and opinion on a day to day basis?

• Does updated information on a day to day basis come from you?

• Could someone else step in to do the work you do for a short period of time?

• How bad do you need this “unplug” time from work?

• Are you ABLE to work on vacation, aka, do you have wifi, do you have ability?

• How long is the vacation?  

At this point, you’ve come to your own conclusion. So, if you’ve decided to work while out, here’s how I would do it. 

 Morning Check In

I’m a morning person. Yes, even on vacation. I am the kind of person who can’t sleep past 7am... no matter how many Tito’s and sodas I had the night before. So, I take advantage of this time while the rest of the crew is still asleep on ocean time to plug in. I get up, make a hot tea, and set up on my laptop to check emails, do some small amounts of production work with what needs to get out the door, and send emails to my team so they know I’m aware of company happenings.

I believe one of the most important parts of recognizing you’re out and that your team still relies on you is getting in their inbox, responding to anything going on. This changes the vibe from total MIA to ‘hey, I’m briefly here and can support you’. If you are looking at long term at this company, you’ll be surprised how appreciated it is that you’re not just totally off the grid - if possible. 

After I get the bare bones of what needs to get done in the morning, shut down the laptop and put it away as your family/friends get up and plug back into vacation and time with the people you love. You’re in good shape.

Throughout the Day Check In

My rule for checking in throughout the day on vacation is… don’t. You are gone for a reason. Turn your email notifications off on the flight or drive there, know your teammates won’t text you unless its something they absolutely cannot handle. The day is yours.

Evening Check In

Unlike the morning check in, evening vacation “work” should be VERY brief. This is a time for emails and answering questions from the morning only. Best time for this is pre-cocktail hour/dinner. Before you get in the shower to get ready for the evening, take a quick scroll through things that need your attention. Then, sign off for the rest of the evening. 

Taking a Break

I would like to say, overall, the most important thing about being gone is you are refreshing yourself mentally, emotionally, physically for being back. Have you ever noticed everyone uses their vacation photos for their social media profile pictures? It’s because you look better from relaxation in them - make sure while you are gone you are totally relaxing to the best of your ability.

For me, total relaxation means checking in a bit and knowing that I won’t be met by a huge amount of emails when I get back to the office. Post-vacation stress is a thing! On the other hand - if you’re not one to care about that and are expecting the pile of emails/work, more power to you! Do what works best for you.

Other Ways to Work

Do you think I’m insane for checking in that much while away? I get it. I’m a psychopath. Here’s a list of other ways to stay on top of your role/business/industry while out that has NOTHING to do with checking email, working through projects, or even TALKING to anyone you work with:

 • Read a book (on the beach, preferably with a beer) that is continued learning for your role. Something industry-related.

• Got a rainy evening? Watch some video tutorial on something you’ve been meaning to do and learn. Come back to work with a new skill, no matter how small.

• Let the ocean breeze get your creative juices flowing - concept a new project, idea, or strategy while you are totally relaxed to present to everyone when you’re back at work. Maybe that’s the perspective everyone needs!

In conclusion, your time off is just that, yours. Be good to yourself and do what’s best!

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