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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)

                            More by this author

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                            Last Updated on February 20, 2019

                            How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                            How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                            Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

                            Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

                            Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

                            Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

                            What is Effective Communication?

                            Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

                            Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

                            It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

                            Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

                            Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

                            Are You a Poor Communicator?

                            Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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                            If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

                            • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
                            • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
                            • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
                            • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
                            • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
                            • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
                            • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
                            • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

                            What Effective Communication Can Do For You

                            Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

                            Work

                            • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
                            • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
                            • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
                            • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
                            • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
                            • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

                            Personal relationships

                            • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
                            • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
                            • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
                            • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
                            • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
                            • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

                            Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

                            The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

                            Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

                            If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

                            On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

                            Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

                            How to Master Effective Communication Skills

                            In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

                            1. Learn how to listen

                            Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

                            Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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                            2. Make eye contact

                            Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

                            Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

                            3. Ask questions

                            When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

                            Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

                            4. Watch body language

                            Watch both yours and the other persons.

                            We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

                            On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

                            Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

                            5. Speak confidently

                            Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

                            It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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                            These tips will help you speak more confidently.

                            6. Keep it simple

                            You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

                            That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

                            7. Know your audience

                            You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

                            Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

                            8. Be empathetic and understanding

                            There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

                            Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

                            Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

                            9. Pause before reacting

                            There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

                            When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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                            10. Over communicate

                            You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

                            I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

                            Conclusion

                            Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

                            At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

                            Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

                            At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

                            You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

                            Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

                            More Resources About Work Communication

                            Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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