Narath Carlile in Articles · 5 minute read

2 Key Steps To Better Vacations

While still being a responsible high achiever.

Header image related to post

Here’s the toolkit:

  1. Preparing to be away responsibly
    1. Have an appropriate away message
    2. Have clear communication channels
      1. General channel: let them know you are away, and ask them to reach out again (if they still need your input) when you are back
      2. Project related channel: to keep projects moving, refer them to a delegate who is still at work on the project while you are away
      3. VIP channel: give them a channel to reach out to you by calling you in the case of urgent/emergent issues (be selective, be also very clear when you will not have reliable connectivity)
        • don’t add this to your general away message, send this directly to them (see below)
    3. Do proactive preparations for your VIPs
      • block off some time 1-2 weeks before your vacation
      • think through all the projects you have with your very important people
        • what might come up, how would you address that if it did
      • share this as a document with your VIP
      • give them the option to meet/discuss this with you before you go away
      • give them a channel to communicate with someone or you (using a push system that you don’t need to keep checking) for any urgent/emergent issues
    4. Turn off notifications
      • Use your phone settings to turn off all notifications (except the push notifications from VIPs) on your phone.
      • Move all business communication/update tools to the second page on your phone
  • Advanced away message skills:
    • Use a message that does work for you
      • asks the sender to do work for you by reaching out again (if input is still needed) when you are back
      • refer them to a delegate to help keep them moving forward
  1. Preparing to return responsibly
    • as soon as you book your vacation, block off time immediately after your vacation to get back up to speed
    • ideally 2 days (and consider telling people you are back only after your catchup time too!)
    • at least the morning after your return
      • you’ll likely also need a bunch of flex blocks later in that day and the following day to actually get caught up
        • there are real benefits to you, your vacation, and your projects to have enough time to catch up well.

Away message generators:

Example away message:

My away message

“Thank you for your message. I am away with my son on a Scouts High Adventure so will have no internet access until 08/07. If you still need my input, please reach out to me again in the week after 08/07.

For urgent issues related to the BEI, please contact Person X. For Brigopedia related issues please contact Person Y. For Sparkle related issues please contact Caitlyn DePaula. For any residency related issues, please contact the residency office at (617) 555-1111. For any clinic related issues, please contact the clinic at 617-555-1234. Yes, it totally takes a village doesn’t it :-). Thanks, Narath.”


  1. State of the Global Workplace Report - Gallup
  2. Vacation Time An Untapped Resource For Enhanced Employee Well-Being & Productivity Wellable
  3. Bloom, Jessica de, Sabine  A.E. Geurts, Sabine Sonnentag, Toon Taris, Carolina de Weerth, and Michiel  A.J. Kompier. “How Does a Vacation from Work Affect Employee Health and Well-Being?” Psychology & Health 26, no. 12 (December 1, 2011): 1606–22.
  4. Bloom, Jessica de, Sabine A. E. Geurts, and Michiel A. J. Kompier. “Effects of Short Vacations, Vacation Activities and Experiences on Employee Health and Well-Being.” Stress and Health 28, no. 4 (2012): 305–18.
  5. Bloom, Jessica de, Sabine A. E. Geurts, and Michiel A. J. Kompier. “Vacation (after-) Effects on Employee Health and Well-Being, and the Role of Vacation Activities, Experiences and Sleep.” Journal of Happiness Studies 14, no. 2 (April 1, 2013): 613–33.

Image credit: Photo by Rachel Claire

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