My Favorite pages


What's this?remove

  • Sign in to use the “My Favorites” feature.

Connect with us on:

Save sanity: Turn off the always-on work culture


NEW YORK – May 9, 2017 – Stop me if this sounds familiar: You need some well-deserved time off work – and off the grid – but you don't want to seem unresponsive to clients or co-workers.

"We're all pulled in so many directions with technology, whether it's for professional or personal reasons, and sometimes the two clash," Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet (Crown; $4.95), tells USA TODAY. "Our time is the most valuable commodity on the planet, and sometimes we need to recharge or re-energize, and it will ultimately allow us to be more productive and effective in the long run."

Out of office auto-replies
When you're taking some time off, start by tweaking your OOO ("out of office") email auto-reply message. That way, whomever is writing you shouldn't expect a quick reply. Many put the dates you're away, too. If you can delegate, perhaps include a line like "If it's urgent, please contact …," or have a trusted co-worker access your email while you're away. Setting up an auto-reply is easy for popular email programs such as Outlook and Gmail.

Speaking of Outlook, if you allow for your free/busy information to be visible to others in Outlook Calendar, you can indicate you are out of office by adding an item to your calendar for the days you're out and specifying for it to show as "out of office."

With Gmail, click Settings in the top right of the page and scroll down to the "Vacation responder" section. Turn this on. Fill in the date range, subject, and message. Underneath your message, check off the box if you only want your contacts to see your vacation reply. At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes.

Other email tips, tricks
Control freaks might log in to check email while on vacation perhaps once or twice a day. Personally, I've found spending 20 minutes out of 24 hours to put out little fires is well worth it.

One more suggestion: If you don't want your clients to know you're away, you can always schedule emails to be sent while you're away. With Outlook, you can queue a bunch of messages before you leave and have them fired off later. Note: Your PC needs to be on for it to send at the specified time. Gmail users can also do this via a third-party tool, such as the free Boomerang add-on.

Slack, Skype
Business communication extends well past email. Popular tools such as Slack and Skype for Business can be used to (gently) tell people you're unplugging.

A new feature in Slack – a cloud-based team collaboration platform – now lets you set your status so you can let your teammates know you're away, when you'll be back, whom to contact in your place or anything else you want to share.

Another trendy productivity tool, Skype for Business, also lets you manually change your status to "Off work" or "Do not disturb" – the latter which will block people from instant-messaging or calling you. If you like, specify your location, as well as enter a custom message that will appear in your contact card across Microsoft's Office 365.

Also, before you head out on vacation you can send a team message in Microsoft Teams new group chat software to let them know when you'll return.

Copyright © 2017,, USA TODAY, Marc Saltzman  

Related Topics: Business