Do you email from vacation?

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I got home last night to find New York in full bloom of an early summer — hot, sticky, humid. The good news: this big, lovely poppy that greeted me.

The sad, if inevitable, news: my email inbox, which I’d managed to completely clear before I left, is back up to its usual levels.

I always wonder about email and vacation. Like any modern workaholic, I often travel with my laptop if I’m going to be gone for a while, mostly to keep up with news and also, sometimes, to write (I sketch ideas and outline on paper, but I can’t compose any long-form without a computer). It’s also nice to be able to keep an eye on my email. I try not to let that take up too much time or intrude on my enjoyment of things; I’m reminded of an anecdote from Damon Young‘s Distraction — excerpted here — where he reflexively answers a phone call while vacationing in Ithaca.

On the other hand, I do try to answer a few things here and there, because how disheartening is it to come home to a jam-packed inbox, and know that you’ll have to spend your first day back in the office answering emails rather than doing real work? As with most technological things, it’s hard to find a balance.

What’s your approach?

3 thoughts on “Do you email from vacation?

  1. I’m a huge believer in the “Out of Office” assistant on my Outlook. In the message I say that I’ll be back in the office one day later than I actually will so that I have a full day to get myself up to speed.

    Today was my first day back after an 11 day vacation and I refused to look at my email while I was gone. It made a huge difference in giving me the rest I needed. I do, however, have a seperate email account for my personal email – which I checked several times a day for the funny ones my pals send!

  2. I unsubscribe from as many notifications as I can think of (funny how those add up!) and set my work email to out-of-office autoreply. That cuts down on quite a bit.
    But because I can’t stand being unconnected from my family, I do check my email every few days, and take the time to clear out any spam/junk.

    I was recently in Istanbul and was amazed to find that there was free wi-fi in Sultanahmet Square! Standing between two ancient monuments (Blue Mosque, Ayasofya) I was able to use my iTouch to receive and reply to my Mom. So, yes – I keep up with family email, but work, I keep trimmed down as
    much as possible.

  3. I delete everything that I possibly can, leave the stuff that can wait and respond or forward stuff that is critical.

    Best vacation I ever had was 3 days without any outside communication: camping and canoeing. It was heaven.

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