The email inbox is the bane of existence for many female entrepreneurs, an endless black hole for others, a procrastination playground for even more, and a general time suck for all.
But while many dread opening their email inboxes, whether they’re on vacation or not, email is an ESSENTIAL part of every business and should be tended to on a DAILY basis.
But you definitely DON’T want to be TIED TO IT while you’re on vacation!! I know I don’t!!
(At least, not anymore… keep reading for that fun story!! 😜)
So today, I’m sharing the quickest and easiest ways to manage email on vacation as a solopreneur (aka someone who doesn’t have a VA that can manage their inbox while they’re away)!!
Related Post: How to Make Going on Vacation as a Female Entrepreneur Easier
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase using these links.)
THE QUICKEST AND EASIEST WAYS TO MANAGE EMAIL ON VACATION
I’ve been managing an email inbox with 4 email addresses (3 business and 1 personal) for 11 years now. And I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way!! 🤓
I’m actually a HUGE fan of inbox zero and reach it multiple times a week, almost every single day. I’m known as the email ninja. But it wasn’t always this way…
I used to spend all. day. long. in my inbox!! I had it open on my laptop from the moment I sat down at my desk to the moment I closed my laptop at the end of the day. I would all but JUMP on an email the second it landed in my inbox!!
But it didn’t stop there. Oh no!!
I also used to OBSESSIVELY check and respond to email on my iPhone whenever I was AWAY from my computer: standing in the kitchen making dinner, in the grocery store checkout line, at the doctor’s office, first thing when I woke up in the morning before I even got out of bed, while I was sitting on the beach on vacation… it was INSANE!! 🤯
But, you see, when I first started my business, I thought having work email on my phone was COOL. It made me feel IMPORTANT!! Like I was a badass boss babe receiving and responding to emails anytime, anywhere.
But it was also super annoying, stressful, and exhausting.
If you’re feeling that way right now, then keeping reading!! Because I’m about to share the SIX things you should do BEFORE you leave, the ONE thing you should NEVER do, and the EXACT email autoresponder I use!! 🤗
1 | DECIDE IF YOU WILL MANAGE EMAIL ON VACATION
This is a decision you should make long before you even step foot on the beach and it should be a FIRM one. Once you decide whether or not you will be looking at or responding to emails on vacation, you HAVE to stick with it.
This should be a hard boundary you set for yourself, for whomever you’re traveling with (family, friends), and your clients.
If you say you aren’t going to check email AT ALL on vacation and then you do, you’ll end up disappointing yourself and your family/friends as well as potentially setting an expectation for your clients that you may or may not be able to uphold for the duration of your trip.
In other words, don’t say, “I’ll just check it once” or “I’ll just answer this one.” If you said NO EMAIL on vacation, then STICK with that!!
Pro Tip: The length of your vacation can be a big factor in whether or not you manage email on vacation. If you’re taking a long weekend, I would definitely NOT check or respond to email at all. If you’re gone for a week, you MAY want to check your email and respond to something urgent, but you don’t have to. If you’re gone for longer than a week, you COULD check your email a few times or even every day and respond to anything urgent or important.
What I Do: Because I’m gone for a grand total of 14 days, I like to check my email once each day. I’ve hit pause on the coaching side of my business while I focus on The Systems Shop, so I don’t have to worry about client emails, but I do want to make sure my course and template students hear back from me ASAP if they have a question.
2 | DECIDE WHEN YOU WILL MANAGE EMAIL ON VACATION
IF you decide to check and respond to email on vacation, your next big decision is WHEN. You could do it first thing in the morning when everyone else is still snoozing or late at night after everyone else has gone to bed. You could also do it during some downtime during the day like when everyone needs some inside, alone, or nap time.
Whenever you decide to take care of email, try and do it at the same time every day and set a timer to hold yourself to it!!
What I Do: I get up early to watch the sunrise every single morning and then set a 30-minute timer to go through email after that. I get rid of any junk that squeaked through, read through the newsletters I actually enjoy, and then quickly respond to anything that needs tending to. And I always do it with a view!! 😍
3 | DECIDE HOW YOU WILL MANAGE EMAIL ON VACATION
This tip may be hard for some of you… but it will CHANGE your life if you let it!! (So let it!! 🙃)
Before you leave, take work email OFF your phone!!
I actually HIGHLY recommend you do this whether you’re going on vacation or not.
Because you really don’t need to be available via email 24/7/365. You just don’t. Nothing is so urgent or important that it can’t wait for you to get back to your desk and respond. In the creative and online business industries, there are no REAL emergencies.
If you’ve always had work email on your phone, it may be hard for you to let go at first. But I promise you, it’s incredibly FREEING when you do!!
So how do you manage your email on vacation if it’s not on your phone? It’s simple: just choose another device!! I recommend you choose one that can be (read: should be) left in your hotel room like a laptop or iPad Pro. That way, you can abide by the boundaries you already set for yourself from tips 1 and 2.
What I Do: I always bring my laptop with me on vacation. Again, I’m gone for two weeks, and if something happens to my website or one of my course students has a question that requires an in-depth answer, I don’t want to be dealing with or fussing over a tiny screen and keyboard. I have a 13-inch MacBook Pro so it’s easy for me to bring it with me in my carry-on.
Related Post: What Happened When I Took Work Email Off My Phone
4 | DO A MASSIVE EMAIL AUDIT AND CLEAN OUT BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Just because you sign up for an email newsletter, doesn’t mean you have to STAY signed up forever!! If marketing emails and newsletters are taking over your inbox, and it’s one of the reasons you don’t even want to open it, you need to GET IN THERE and start deleting!!
But before you hit that delete key, make sure you UNSUBSCRIBE first!!
The search function will be your best friend here!!
You can search for “unsubscribe” or “manage your subscription” to filter all of the newsletters and marketing emails in your inbox. Then, you can choose which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to unsubscribe from and delete.
My rule of thumb when it comes to marketing emails and newsletters is very simple: if it doesn’t inform you, educate you, excite you, or entertain you, let it go!!
Doing this BEFORE you leave on vacation will significantly lessen the amount of time you spend IN your inbox while you’re ON vacation or when you get back.
Pro Tip: I recommend doing an email audit once a quarter to keep your inbox clutter-free!!
Bonus Tip: Check out Fresh Start Systems for a complete, done-for-you list of ALL the things you should be doing to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine all year long!!
5 | GIVE ADVANCE NOTICE
Let your clients and customers know you’ll be gone well before your out of office time.
Give them an update on their orders/projects, tell them how long you’ll be gone (i.e. when you’re leaving and when you’re coming back), what to do if there’s an emergency (make sure you define what an emergency is), and set the expectations for communication before, during, and after your vacation (aka when they can expect to hear from you again).
Pro Tip: You can also put a note in your email signature, put out a post on Instagram or Instagram Stories, and/or add a banner to your website, shop page, or course areas that announce your upcoming out-of-office dates.
6 | PUT UP AN EMAIL AUTORESPONDER
When I went on vacation during my first year of business, I didn’t know what an email autoresponder was… so I checked and answered emails multiple times a day, every single day, while I was walking on the beach and lounging by the pool. (This was also back when I still had access to email on my iPhone 🤦🏼♀️)
The second year, I put up an email autoresponder and everything changed!!
If you’ve never set an autoresponder when you’re out of the office for extended periods before, consider this your personal invitation. #heresyoursign
Pro Tip: I recommend putting up your autoresponder 1-2 days BEFORE you leave and LEAVING it up for 1-2 days AFTER you get back. This allows you plenty of time to prepare beforehand and catch up/ease back in once you get back. I also encourage you to keep your autoresponders short and sweet but helpful. Let people know you’re out of the office, whether or not you’ll be checking in while you’re gone, when they can expect a response, and where they can go in the meantime.
WHAT MY AUTORESPONDER LOOKS LIKE:
I’ve traded my maple trees for palm trees, my blue light-blocking glasses for sunglasses, and my yoga pants for bathing suits!! That’s right, I’m on vacation!! 😎
I’ll be out of the office from [start date] to [end date]. I’ll be checking my email once each day and if I deem your email urgent, you can expect a response ASAP!! If not, I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m back in the office.
In the meantime, feel free to…
✔️ visit the blog for a little binge-reading
✔️ stop by The Systems Shop to take back control of your life/business
✔️ follow me on Instagram (@theproductivityzone) for all the photos of palm trees, videos of the sunrise, and boomerangs of the waves
Talk soon, ok?!
👆🏻 If you like it, by all means, SWIPE IT and use it for your next out-of-office notification!! 👆🏻
7 | THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD NEVER DO
A fellow business owner once told me that she goes into her inbox every couple of weeks, selects all, and then deletes. 😱😱😱
Holy Mother of God!! Whether you just got back from vacation or not, you should NEVER, EVER just select all and delete emails from your inbox on a regular basis!!
That is NOT a productive way of managing your inbox or even doing business. It’s reckless and irresponsible. (I said what I said!!)
I get that managing an inbox is time-consuming when you own your own business. It can be exhausting. It can also be quite scary if you get an email from an irate client or customer.
But you can’t just delete everything and hope for the best. You will miss out on opportunities and you will lose business. So, put on your big girl pants and deal with it!!
Pro Tip: Having a stash of email templates that you can use again and again will also help lessen the amount of time you spend in your inbox. Just copy, paste, and customize, and you’ll be on your way to inbox zero in no time!!
So, there you have it, friends!! The quickest and easiest ways to manage email on vacation (and beyond)!! I truly hope these tips were helpful and that you’ll start implementing them right away. If you have any questions about getting to inbox zero on a regular basis, leave them in the comments!! If I get enough questions/interest, I’ll do a follow-up blog post with more tips!!
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Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post could be affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I personally use, love, and feel make a difference in my business and could do the same for you.