And by unplug, I mean absolutely no phone or email. Believe me, it can be done.
For example, this post is scheduled for my first day of vacation, August 12th. Most of the work I do for my business and for my Clients can be scheduled, i.e. blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, e-newsletters, etc., which makes the continuity of content feasible. Here’s how I’m making this two week hiatus work:
Notify Clients ASAP
The biggest piece of advice I can give is notify Clients as soon as you know you’ll be unavailable. The day my airline ticket was procured, I emailed each Client to let them know I would be unavailable. I also included how their account would be handled while I was gone. Whether I would get the work done ahead of time, whether I would schedule their content to post while I was gone, options for rescheduling coaching sessions, etc…
Change your Email Signature
After I notified my Clients via email, I made sure that my general Contacts knew that I would be unavailable for two weeks. I changed my email signature to include the dates I would be gone and that I really, truly would be unavailable. Be sure to create your email signature in such a way that it stands out from the body of the email, i.e. different color, font style, background color.
One thing that caught me off guard was preparing for the three months after my return. I realized that there were three events that I produce that needed to be planned and marketed, i.e. DSM Sushi Roll, LinkedIn 301 Workshop at the Urbandale Chamber and Stammtisch Des Moines German Club‘s Oktoberfest at my house. Not to mention the three months ahead for each Client! To successfully unplug for two weeks, take a look at what you’ve got on your calendar and your Client’s calendars for the three months after your return and then get as much done as possible.
Notify Your Clients AGAIN
One week before I left, I emailed each Client individually AGAIN to remind them that I’ll be unavailable via phone and email during this two week period. I also shared with them the work I’ve completed on their account to give them piece of mind.
Set up Out of Office
Most Email Clients (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) allow users to create an automated reply that is sent to individuals that email you while you’re away (you can choose the start and end dates). Even though your existing Contacts and Clients have been seeing your email signature with the notification, you may receive emails from other individuals. Instead of their email going unanswered – for two weeks – this automated reply could include the dates of unavailability, the date of return, who the individual could get in contact with if their question can’t wait, etc. Don’t let emails go unanswered while you’re unplugged.
Change Your Voicemail
Yes, individuals still use their phones to make actual phone calls! I changed my voicemail to include the dates I’ll be unavailable as well as inviting the caller to send me an email if my voicemail inbox is full. The best thing you can do is give individuals options.
Prepare for a Smooth Return
I’ll be returning at 11pm on August 25th, and leaving for a family vacation over Labor Day weekend on Thursday, August 28th. Many individuals avoid long vacations because they dread the return to work. To ease this pain, I’ve addressed my Client’s needs as well as my business’ through this week (for the most part) as well.
This is the approach I’ve taken to unplugging for two weeks. I have every confidence that my Clients will continue to have the same amazing experience while I’m away because if our mutual preparation. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share?