Plan Ahead: WOL Members Offer Tips for a Relaxing Vacation

It’s summer and either you’ve taken vacation or plan to take time off.

Review how your colleagues of Women Owned Law manage their time, their practice and their personal lives to have a truly relaxing vacation. Which tips will you follow the next time you leave the office?

First, communicate with your associates. Wendy Samuelson, with a matrimonial law practice at Samuelson Hause in Garden City, NY prepares well ahead of her departure: “I plan a month in advance for my vacation. I make sure my associates review everything that is happening on their cases their agreements with me before I leave on vacation. In addition, my associates are also prepped on any cases that I am handling, so that they can cover for me while I am away.”

Ariana Tadler of Tadler Law, a boutique law firm focused on class action, complex litigation and e-discovery in Manhasset, NY, says, “When I am away, I set specific hours for my team to communicate with me,” thereby protecting her time to relax.

Next, prepare your family and travel companions. Intellectual property attorney Anna Brook, at Culhane Meadows in New York, advises, “Don’t start your vacation stressing out because you don’t have enough time to pack. I set aside time a day or two before I leave to gather what I want to take with me, my husband and our four children. This way I have time to buy whatever I am missing. You don’t want to pay for overpriced sunscreen or kids’ bathing suits at a hotel gift shop.”

When it comes to communication with your clients, you may utilize finesse and subterfuge when publicly stating your vacation dates. Samuelson lets her clients know that she will be away a month in advance. “I tell them my last day in the office is a day prior to my actual vacation. That way, I am sure there are no loose ends before leaving.”

Having prepared your staff, family and clients, you must decide how to manage your email In box. Don’t let email distract you from truly being out of office. The solution, for Karen Boyd, at IP and patent litigation firm Turner Boyd in Redwood City, CA, is to leverage technology and Outlook’s power.

“Set up Rules on your email to deal with certain types of emails. For instance, if your firm has an often-used everyone@ email list, set a rule to automatically delete those emails, unless they are specifically addressed or copied to you. Then, ask a colleague to forward you anything that goes to this list that you actually need to see. “

Boyd adds another step to manage those frequent newsletters. “Set other rules to auto-delete news and other high-volume, low-importance, high-time-sensitive emails. This will vastly decrease the amount of email you need to wade through when you return from vacation.”

On the other hand, her colleague Keeley Vega checks her email daily, albeit on a limited basis. “The pain of returning to an exploding email In box outweighs the pleasure of being completely disconnected from work while on vacation. Accordingly, I take a few minutes each day to clear my In box (delete, file or flag for later). The volume in my In box is more manageable when I return and there are no surprises.” Vega’s practice at Turner Boyd focuses on complex patent litigation.

Tadler takes a different approach, with a creative touch to the traditional auto reply. “I set my out of office message with my OOO dates and ask those who email me to email me again upon my return. By doing so, I establish the message that I am not checking email regularly while away. This gives me a reprieve. I also include a closing positive statement to reinforce the desired state of mind.”

Consider how Jennifer Gillman has trained the email beast. “Turn off your notifications, grab an actual book and read it. Electronic books are too close to email, messages and notifications; it is too easy to open a browser and do something else that is not in your vacation plan.” Gillman Strategic Group is a law firm matchmaker for attorneys, practice groups and small firms, based in Westfield, NJ.  

Scheduling vacation presents a challenge and an opportunity. According to Andrea Ewart, “It helps reduce any back-to-work blues if I return to the office mid-week. I know I have only a couple of days before the weekend.” Ewart’s practice in international trade law, DevelopTradeLaw LLC, is in Washington, DC,

What about that other type of work, home work? Ewart counsels, “I give myself a down day at home after my return from vacation to take care of personal things, like collecting and dealing with mail and cleaning house.”

Perhaps you will follow Vega’s advice: “Nothing beats coming home from vacation to a clean house! I schedule the cleaners to come while we’re gone, so there’s nothing to do when we get home, except relax and unpack.”

There you have it. Follow these vacation tips to communicate with your associates and clients, plus manage your email In box and your home, to make the most of your relaxation while you are away and when you return.

Janet Falk is a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional at Falk Communications and Research. She offers members of WOL a review of their Public Relations and Marketing activities in a Complimentary 30-minute consultation. She guarantees TWO Ideas.


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