Q. I’d like to ignore email while I’m on a family vacation but the payback is a day wasted going through messages when I return. Any thoughts?

A. Emails pile up quickly, that’s for sure. There are a few tips that can not only help you more easily manage emails while you’re away but on a daily basis. First, use the “rules” feature to automatically have categorical groups of emails sent to an offline folder. This works great for e-zines, e-newsletters, or messages from a particular person or group. Second, if you subscribe to Google alerts, set up a rule to have them delivered to a folder. Or, if you can skip them for a week, unsubscribe while you’re gone. Third, before you go through emails individually by date, sort by “From.” You can usually delete multiple emails at once based on who sent them. Finally, have a system for your personal folders. Often I receive emails that are quick to read but I need them on file. I can quickly move them from the inbox to the folder.

Sanity Tips from Readers
“Change the card in your Blackberry to a ‘normal’ cell phone, that way you’ll just get calls, no emails. Also, leave an away message including the words ‘I WILL NOT have access to email.’ And please don’t take your laptop with you.” — Miguel Herrera G., Director of Business Development

“When it comes to business travel I usually want to stay connected, but I don’t want to let my tools disrupt the meetings I’m traveling for, so I set my cell phone to ‘silent.’ When people call and I don’t pick up they can decide if they need to leave me a voice mail or contact someone else. I put an ‘out of office’ message on my e-mail, turn it off while in meetings so I can concentrate on the subject at hand, then I check my e-mail at the end of the day.

While on vacation I disconnect. I plan my vacations to destinations with little or no internet access. I love cruising.” — Julia Borchardt Rasmussen, Technical Writing/Business Analyst

“My best advice starts way before you plan your vacation by empowering your associates to make decisions while you are still around to supervise and coach them. By laying that foundation you can ensure that they will successfully handle situations when you are unavailable and on vacation.

As for managing e-communications when traveling on business, I try to ensure that all of my outgoing messages (email away message, voicemail, staff) have a consistent message and I have clearly outlined what the expectations are. If the message is not clear and concise it can be left open to interpretation, requiring you to field unnecessary calls or emails.” — Kim Lucas, Retail Banking & Sales Coordinator