If you're planning to take a few days off around the holidays, you might already be worried about the gravitational force your work email can have during that time. "I'm just going to check in," you tell yourself. Before you know it, half your vacation day has been spent working remotely.
Alison Green, the author of the popular Ask A Manager blog, offers several strategies to make sure you don't fall into this trap in an article for US News and World Report. And one of them is simple enough that it might just work.
Who Guards Your Gate?
Find somebody at work, somebody you really trust. Maybe its a cofounder or a top team executive, or maybe it's your protege. Whoever it is, tell her that she is your "gatekeeper," as Green calls it. Only she is allowed to contact you while you're away, and they're only allowed to do so if you're really needed. Like, really needed.
"When multiple people are able to reach you, some of them aren't going to be as discriminating about what's worth bothering you as others are," Green writes. "Figure out who has good judgment about when you truly do need to be contacted and get aligned with that person on what constitutes an emergency."
To take this a step further, you could tell your gatekeeper to only contact you by phone, allowing you to really get awat from your email. Just make sure your out-of-office directs incoming emails toward your gatekeeper.
Green notes that for many business leaders, personal assistants can fill this role, should an assistant be a luxury you can afford. However, she writes that finding somebody who is your peer in the company comes with an added benefit: You can return the favor when it's their time around. That way, you're not just guarding eachothers' gates, but also building a vacation buddy system--or maybe more accurately, a support group.