It’s no secret that in summertime the number of employees taking advantage of their saved up vacation days sees a major boost. A topic I think a lot of professionals struggle with – especially those of us in the PR industry – is while on vacation when is it time to look away from email and put the smartphone down.
We’re all guilty of it. You may find yourself idle for even a minute and you think, “well let me check my email quickly” and then we get caught in the black hole that is our inbox. As PR people we know that’s part of the job and there is no such thing as a 9-5 work day. But it’s important not to forget our lives outside of office and part of this is putting up that out-of-office message and leaving it at that.
That said, one worry all PR people can probably agree on is missing that email from a reporter that wants to speak with your client or a request from the client for a quick turnaround on a project. This is when we must put our trust in the almighty out-of-office message. I recently read an article in Fast Company where the author lamented over the annoyance of this message and suggested we do away with them. My response to this notion was the following: Huh?? I can understand frustrations with poor auto-responses that are short on information and don’t offer an alternative contact, But to not have one at all leads me to think one of two things will happen: 1) there will be quite a few people left annoyed by unanswered emails or 2) your vacation will be spent with a smartphone glued to your palm.
Think of it this way: you’re not the only one in your office right? You’re not the only one on your client team right? Take a breath, order a margarita, and relax. If you’re truly needed for a situation someone knows how to get in touch with you. Now I don’t expect you to completely forget about your inbox – after all this is PR we’re talking about – at least set a limit for yourself. If you really have to, check once in the morning and once in the evening and put the mobile away for the rest of the day.
In the PR industry we are notoriously devoted to our jobs and our clients but it’s important to find a balance. After all, a happy PR person is a productive PR person and you worked hard to earn those vacation days. So ease your mind and put down the smartphone. Enjoy your time with friends, family, and loved ones whether you’re indulging in a staycation or jet setting to Europe – take the time you earned to relax. Your inbox will still be there when you get back.