Do You Check Your Email on Vacation? 7 CEOs Tell the Honest Truth

Do you check your email on vacation? How often? I talked to seven CEOs to find out whether they manage to stay away from their inboxes during off time.

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check email on vacation

Turns out, all of them admitted to checking their email on vacation, even if that means a quick glance over the most important messages.

Is it best to completely disconnect from work when you’re away from the office? Or does that only add to your anxiety as you get back?

See what these seven entrepreneurs have to say – and their tips for better email management.

“I set a limited time.”

“I check my email on vacation but set a limited time for the routine, not more than 30 minutes a day. I try to do it in the morning so I can have the rest of the day away from work. Moreover, when checking emails in the early hours, I have time to think over the questions that require a more detailed response.

To minimize the anxiety and enjoy the holiday, I always complete all the important tasks and projects before leaving. I also let my colleagues and clients know I’ll be away on holiday and will respond to messages only at a particular time.

To ensure people can reach me in case of an emergency, I leave other contacts (mostly messengers) that would be valid at my vacation location.”

Aleksey Danchenko, CEO of eSputnik

“There’s just no way around it.”

“I do check my email on vacation a few times a day. In fact, I work up to three hours a day during my vacations – there’s just no way around it.

But don’t rush to pity me: I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 16 and what I do is a way of living. It’s become a routine, and my routine doesn’t stress me (too much). On the contrary, following Inbox Zero gives me peace as I know all urgent matters are under control.

I do have some rules, though: each subject line helps me decide which emails need my immediate response. Some things are time-sensitive and I can’t afford to ignore them. All other emails get forwarded, archived or marked as read. It doesn’t take me that long and helps me avoid having to return to an overflowing inbox.”

Liviu Tanase, founder and CEO ZeroBounce

“Scan your email daily and get rid of any bulk emails.”

“There’s nothing worse than returning from a relaxing week away and having 500+ emails in your inbox.

I’ll never forget years ago when I was on my honeymoon, my then boss said to me, ‘I will send all your emails to Spam if you email us from the beach.’ BUT – I would much rather skim my email quickly each day of vacation and delete any unnecessary emails and save the important ones to respond to when I get back. It makes things SO much easier when you return.

And as someone in email marketing, it’s important to me to check in and make sure my clients’ campaigns were sent out on time – even if it’s a quick glance.

A few tips for handling email on vacation:

  • Quickly scan your email daily and get rid of any bulk emails (5-10 mins max).
  • Flag important emails to follow up on when returning.
  • Make a folder “Read Later” and throw the rest of your emails in that folder.
  • Don’t respond to any emails, but simply flagging and filing them can really help those ‘return to work’ blues.

Emily Ryan, Email Marketing & MailChimp Expert, Co-Founder, Westfield Creative 

“It takes me 20 minutes to scan my inbox and reply to urgent emails.

“I check my email a few times a day, even on vacation. In the morning, it takes me 20 minutes to scan my inbox and reply to urgent emails.

I get 50 to 100 emails every day. Only 10% of them are important as they relate to financial, legal, and other matters that require my direct reaction. But I need to look at all of them to determine which ones need a quick reply.

I have an excellent team of professionals who work autonomously. Our business is now growing every month by 30%. To keep this rate, we need to make quick decisions – some of which only I can make.

A tip for better email management: before you leave the office, set up an automatic Out of the Office (OOO) reply. It will direct people to your colleagues or assistant and this will diminish your stress upon return.”

Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Belkins

I favor inbox awareness.”

“I follow the basic philosophy: you’re better off if you know what’s going on. So, even on vacation, I favor inbox awareness.

However, I’m selective and careful with the emails I get. Having a process is essential, otherwise things can get intrusive.

On vacation, I manage my emails about four times a day. Each time I follow the same path: I reply to most urgent matters right away, I flag other priority emails to deal with them later, and I delete useless ones.

At night, I give my mailbox one last glance. I don’t know if it’s the best way to go but it works for me and I sleep well at night.”

Benjamin Cahen, founder and CEO of Wisepops

I usually spot check it daily or every couple of days.”

“I’m guilty of doing this. As a CEO, I really do encourage people on our team to 100% cut off when they are on vacation. Within my role, I feel a strong need to be in the loop of what is happening with the business, even when I’m away.

When I do this, I usually spot check it daily or every couple of days. If vacation time is less than a week, I usually don’t touch my email. If it is one week or longer, the spot checking (but not engaging) method is great.

I like to not feel like I’ll have a giant pile of email to sort through first thing when I’m back from a vacation. But sometimes, it’s best to fully disconnect and plan the time to deal with email when you’re officially back to work.

Email has so many direct correlations to stress and anxiety. Knowing this, it might be a challenge for executive roles that oversee and manage a business, but it is strongly encouraged to disconnect when you’re on vacation. Vacations are meant for resetting and recharging, so that you can come back to work fresh and full or energy.

Positive self-talk and encouragement also helps, telling yourself that you are only human and you don’t need to worry about emails when you’re off. You deserve that time off, away from work, away from your inbox.

Tell yourself that you will ensure to communicate and align expectations upon your return to work, so that your team knows that you might need one to two days to catch up on all emails and activities within the business.”

Andrea Loubier, CEO of Mailbird

“It’s a part of life for a lot of entrepreneurs in the digital space.”

“I do check my email on vacation, once a day.

Checking email on vacation is simply a part of life for a lot of entrepreneurs in the digital space. While I enjoy disconnecting, I also like the work I do and like staying up to date.

The flipside to ‘having to check my email on vacation’ is that my work is flexible enough to allow me to travel a lot, which you won’t see me complaining about!”

 — Ben Aston, CEO of Black+White Zebra and The Digital Project Manager

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