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Ask The Entrepreneurs: How to Battle Your Inbox While on Vacation

Ask The Entrepreneurs: How to Battle Your Inbox While on Vacation


    Ask The Entrepreneurs

    is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    Work email on vacation: do you do it? When is it time to tune out?

    1. Guilty As Charged!

      I never turn off my email. I may not be answering all of the emails that come in, but I am constantly scanning to make sure that the business isn’t on fire. I think it’s difficult to turn it off completely, especially if you are a solopreneur, even though there is great value in doing so. It is appropriate to tune it out if you are with family or friends though — give them attention too!
      Erin Blaskie, BSETC

      2. Admittedly Always On

        For entrepreneurs, “work-life balance” is more like “work-life blend.” When you need to recharge, you can take a break whenever it fits into your schedule; vacation doesn’t have to happen around prescribed times. Because of the reality of intermittent breaks, it’s never convenient to entirely tune out and switch off. You might set an away message, but it’s better to stay on top than fall behind.
        Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

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        3. Vacation Responder Is Key

          I go email-less at least one day per week, usually on the weekend. So when it’s time for a real email-free vacation, it’s important to have an away message and to give people who might have an emergency a way to contact you, but chances are their emergencies aren’t actual emergencies and can wait till you get back to your inbox.
          Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media


          4. Regular Checks Necessary

            I try to only check emails at certain times of the day when I’m on vacation. It’s not very realistic for entrepreneurs to completely log off for long periods of time, but you can limit it to first thing in the morning and once in the afternoon. If it bothers you to not check it, just check it quickly and get on with your vacation!
            Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding


            5. Sorry, Entrepreneurs

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              Whether you like it or not, if you are a founder, you should also serve as a customer service representative for your company. Customer service is a 24/7 job, and keeping your clients happy is a must. Email doesn’t have to take much time out of your vacation (an hour or two per day maximum). You should never ignore it completely.
              Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT


              6. Hire Someone for That!

                Email and vacation don’t belong in the same sentence. Working during your vacation is distracting and will prevent from getting that R&R your body needs. The best way to get the best of both worlds is to let someone who is very trustworthy read your emails once per day. Ask them to call you if something is extremely urgent. That will give you peace of mind since you’ll know everything is in order.
                Christian Springub, Jimdo

                7. Live Your Vacation

                  I decided to live my vacation, but building my business so I am actually on vacation all the time. Part of that is checking emails and allotting time to make phone calls and things, but I built my business so I can travel the world and explore fun new places while hanging out with cool people, rather than taking a vacation and trying to get your balance in for a week. Balance your life daily.
                  Louis Lautman, Young Entrepreneur Society

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                  8. Yes, With a Caveat

                    When I’m truly on vacation, I’ll check email, but only for absolutely essential emails. I only answer emails if someone bought a product and it wasn’t delivered, or if my site is down for some reason. Just essential customer service and catastrophic tech issues. That’s it. Everything else can wait.
                    Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC


                    9. Leaving Is Not an Option

                      It’s truly not an option to avoid checking your email if you are a startup company founder. It’s your job to serve your customers and fellow team members whenever needed, even if you’re lounging with a cocktail on the beach. The key is utilize parameters and have enough discipline to not be constantly checking your email throughout the day as you would at the office. Once or twice a day is okay.
                      Warren Jolly, Affiliate Marketing

                      10. Compartmentalize Your Life

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                        Of course I check work email on vacation — damn near impossible to fully disconnect! But I’m working on getting better at compartmentalizing work time while on vacation by dedicating up to an hour in the mornings to read and respond to the critical things. Then I shut off for the rest of the day and get something out of the vacation.
                        Brooks Kincaid, Imprint Energy


                        11. It’s Part of the Job

                          Answering email on vacation is one of the sacrifices entrepreneurs have to make. After all, no one is responsible for making sure the company doesn’t implode but you. Hopefully, after a few years of blood, sweat and tears, you can take a breather. But as a founder you will most likely always be heavily involved in your business operations.
                          Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work


                          12. Entrepreneurial Escape

                            When I’m lucky enough to escape for a few days, I usually set aside an hour in the morning that I designate to answering emails, connecting with clients and employees, and taking care of anything else that arises. Once that hour is over, the phone is off, the laptop is closed and the only thing on my iPad is Pandora for the rest of the day!
                            Kevin Tighe II, INFLITE

                            (Photo credit: Man in Red Shirt on Lakeshore via Shutterstock)

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                            Last Updated on April 11, 2019

                            How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                            How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                            Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

                            I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

                            I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

                            Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                            How Communication Skills Help Your Success

                            Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

                            Create a Positive Experience

                            Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

                            When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

                            What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

                            Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

                            As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

                            Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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                            Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

                            Help Leadership Skills

                            It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

                            Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

                            As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

                            Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

                            If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

                            Build Better Teams

                            Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

                            In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

                            If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

                            When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

                            Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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                            How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                            There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

                            Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

                            1. Listen

                            Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

                            Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

                            People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

                            Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

                            Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

                            2. Know Your Audience

                            Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

                            Here is a good way to think about it:

                            Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

                            You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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                            3. Minimize

                            I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

                            He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

                            Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

                            State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

                            The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

                            4. Over Communicate

                            So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

                            What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

                            Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

                            Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

                            Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

                            There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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                            5. Body Language

                            The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

                            When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

                            In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

                            When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

                            Conclusion

                            Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

                            Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

                            There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                            Now go communicate your way to success.

                            More Resources About Effective Communication

                            Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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