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The Email I Had To Write To Take A Vacation

I used to go on vacations and be miserable. I'd often want to be back in the office so that I wouldn't have to wonder about all of the things I might be missing.

  • I'd check my emails throughout the day, despite putting up a vacation reminder
  • I'd jump into problems I didn't understand fully (because I was away)
  • I'd worry that certain things were being dropped in my absence (they weren't)
Obviously I'd come back to work feeling more stressed than when I'd left. This summer I knew I had to change that - not only for my sanity, but for my family, and those who worked with me.

So I did two things.

  1. I filled in a Google Spreadsheet that tracked all of the tasks that needed to be taken on while I was gone. You can find a copy here and use it for yourself.
  2. I wrote a note to the entire PowerToFly team that made it very clear how and when to reach me. The note was key for my piece of mind - and for everyone else who would need to get in touch. I knew that people would call if there was a truly urgent matter. If not, I'd check in when I said I would. (And my cofounder was around, so any major escalations could go to her.) What I learned is that when I only checked in once a day, most of the issues that would stress me out on previous vacations had already been solved! So what I really took away from sending the note below is that going on holiday is often the best way to learn how to trust your team (that's for another blog post).

Hi Everyone -

Below is an escalation and expectations rundown for my time in the UK. I'll be visiting family through 9/4. Please read this. It's important that we're all on the same page so you don't feel like you're bothering me.

I'll aim to check email at 8pm GMT which is 3pm EST and 12pm PST where I can give feedback on any items that aren't immediate, but that require my attention. All daily functions are in the PTO handover grid here.

I really want to stay away from constantly looking at email - it's stressful to worry that you're missing important things. So if you need me before or after those times then please call me or text. Keep in mind that I want to be in bed by 9. So earlier calls are appreciated. My cell is xxxx. You shouldn't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have something that needs my attention asap. If in doubt, just call. I'll be more annoyed if I feel you're trying to protect my time (and therefore waste other people's time) than if you just get in touch.

In general, escalations include:

  • A client request or question no one else can handle
  • Mass messaging that needs to be approved that is related to a crisis or major product update. All other messaging should go through Arbell and Andrea.

I will still be taking a few meetings:

  • Kick off calls with X and any other major client
  • Senior Management Call on 8/28

Meetings I will not attend (please record)

  • Org call (I'll be in the air on Monday)
  • Mega meeting - Arbell runs my part
  • Product backlog - Ana runs as always
  • Site traffic meeting - Andrea and Vanina run
  • Daily standups (don't record)

Thanks all.

K

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