On being Out of Office

“Gone fishin'” – photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/

Once upon a time, I dreamed about being “in touch” at whatever time, wherever (and whenever I was.) And then it happened – and things were sort of simultaneously wonderful and horrible. You know the feeling – you worry that things will happen when you are not available, and that an important decision would need to be made and that you need to do it.

These ideas, of course, are sheer poppycock. Balderdash. Pure silliness.

Things will continue to happen, important decisions may need to be made and you do not need to be the one to do it. In fact, the sooner you communicate your ideas to other people and allow them to make these important decisions with your intent and to understand the positives and negatives involved, you’ve just increased your sphere of influence and made it easier for you to do that thing you really wanted to do (it could be taking a few well-deserved days off; planning your next move; or just doing nothing and waiting for inspiration to strike.)

So the next time you take a vacation, try these tips:

  1. Actually don’t respond until you come back (it sounds a bit scary, and will help you batch your responses and make it a lot easier to understand what was a momentary blip and what’s actually still a problem.
  2. Respond to the inbound request by asking for help from your colleagues and giving them some room to work
  3. Add to your out of office message some actionable information (and some fun) – take a page from Matt Heinz’s book and share great resources along with the news that you’re not here right now.

After you’re back, ask yourself – what did you miss? The important things were probably still there for you to answer. (And the less important ones, already answered 😉

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