Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi

Real-izing Your Virtual Identity

How do You Unplug on Vacation?

Posted by barbararozgonyi on July 16, 2007

How do you unplug when you go on vacation? That’s the message a local reporter had waiting for me last Friday. While I frequently manage media inquiries for clients, a reporter calling for yours truly is a rarity. Because we returned from our family vacation a few days earlier, my experience of voluntarily unplugging was fresh in my mind. I purposely made the decision to excise email, vanish voicemail and interrupt the Internet. Each of our hotels hosted a complimentary 24-hour business center, but I didn’t use it – until the last day of our vacation. I found one media inquiry so I emailed back only to find they’d already contacted the client and had started the story. On most vacations, I check email once every few days only to find that there’s really no urgent matter waiting my attention. Still, it’s fun to reply with a message like, “I’m at Latte Lucy’s on a beachy island miles away from the kids at the water park.” But, it’s not necessary. And checking back into your office or business can break your mood. Even a call to friends may burst your bubble. When our son P.d. checked in with his skateboard team, Zak told him Marcell was in the hospital. He immediately began work on a tribute video- if you think it’s hard to shut down, try getting a video camera away from a teenage filmmaker. Maybe next time we’ll leave the kids’ cell phones and cameras at home. If you plan it right, you can go on vacation whenever you like without feeling guilty. Besides, taking a break revives your energy and your creative spirit. Before I returned the reporter’s call, I outlined a few key points: – back up – assign someone to take your calls and check your email who is familiar with your clients, be sure to introduce them before you leave – sounds like common sense, but a quick conference call to confirm that they know each other and that the client’s priorities are clear provides peace of mind for both of you – updates – if there’s no way you can avoid checking in, set up a time to call once a day in the late afternoon to go over any newsy items that need attention like the lady I overheard on the water taxi telling someone how to accept out of state checks in her store – redirect – list your back up contact’s information or your cell phone number in all communications. You don’t have to answer every call that comes in. Change your voicemail on all of your lines to mention that you’re on vacation. – give them a life line -include your cell phone number in your office voice mail, on your website and in your email signature. – timing – take off when there’s a natural pause in your projects or pick a slow time – like around the fourth of July – automatic messaging, blogging – if you’re in regular communication, keep it flowing by setting up autoresponders to mail your email messages for you and pre-load your blog for automatic delivery – this is only if you don’t care about monitoring comments and stats while you’re gone – technology – carry a phone with email and Internet connections so you don’t have to lug a laptop. If you have an Internet connection on your phone, change the last page visited from your email to Google or some other site that’s not yours. Coming Back – download images and upload to flickr – change voicemail messages – create a short verbal vacation review to share with clients and employees – call everyone to check in – yes, this takes time but it feels good and helps you reconnect more quickly When you get back home you may have formed a new habit: reducing your dependence on email to fill your time and distract you from focusing on completing projects so you can take more time off. Your turn: how do you unplug on vacation?

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