Edition Eighteen: [Out of office]…

Perhaps it is on my mind because I am going on a short, but needed vacation next week, but let’s talk about time off.We can all complain about not getting time off or not enough vacation, but for a manager, there’s also how to *deal* with vacation and time off. Some thoughts, in no particular order.

1) Texting in the middle of the night and demanding answers is not a good idea.  You want to set up boundaries for yourself, and your team about when you are expected to be “on.” If you demand an answer to an email text at 10 pm, that means you’re setting yourself up to be bothered at 10 pm. Is that really what you want?

I’ve told people that I’m always available, but that doesn’t mean I respond right away. I might say, “Can we talk about this tomorrow?” Or tell people we’ll chat about it at the upcoming meeting, when you get back from vacation. Try your best to be an example and not answer email when you’re taking time off.

2) Take a vacation. We deprive ourselves because we worry the ship will not float without us. The ship will float, I promise. The world will go on if you do not answer your phone for a week. Hell, it might even be a good test of your right-hand person, to see if they can handle things in your absence.

Again, you are the model here. If you don’t take a vacation, no one else will because they don’t think it’s allowed.

3) I posted on Facebook about what we should talk about in this newsletter because summer doldrums.  The question came up about what to do with all that free time when everyone takes a vacation (it’s always around now through September, is it not?). A good answer from Kelsey Proud (a good manager! And great human!) is to maybe take advantage to do goal setting or brain storming, things you don’t get to do most of the time.

Summer doldrums are the worst, but given the pace of life, any minute we can take a step back and reassess is great. Maybe take a half-day off for most of the team, or even a few hours and do some team building (Ice cream? Escape room? See a play together?). Maybe this is when you try that new tactic, or app that you haven’t had time to test as a team all year. What’s on the backburner?

The issue, though, is when too many people take time off. Team calendars are key if you really are going to encourage time off. And the more open you are about taking time off (even an hour) and trusting folks to pick up the slack, they more you’re hopefully building a culture of people covering and helping one another during doldrums.

4) The out-of-office reply is an art.  I know a few people who use them to cleverly promote their latest work, or favorite pieces, or just fun ideas.

As long as you include when you’ll be back and who to contact in your absence, you have a lot of leeway for other fun things.



Public speaking is something I do a lot, but I never feel great at it. I just came across Orai, which I have yet to try, but looks like it’ll help improve pacing and increase elimination of filler words like the “you know?” I’m prone to using.

Great things I’ve read lately
On being a writer with a mental illness. (The Open Notebook) “Twenty-nine million people tune in to Shark Week with an average of 2 million per episode and yet no conservation NGO I know of sees a bump in donations.” (The Last Word On Nothing)

Jobs jobs jobs 

  • My shop – NowThis – is hunting for a couple senior-level positions. Most are in NYC, and I’d get to work with you pretty often. If you’re interested, hit reply.
  • Immigration and Equality reporter at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs (Thanks SDO!).
  • Engineering Manager, Wired.