Tips for minimizing work time while on vacation

Summer season is in full swing and for many that means a calming vacation. Unfortunately, some of us can't totally escape work, so here are some tips to minimize the distraction.

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Blue skies, calm breezes, and white beaches are some of the nice things about vacations. Getting away from work tops it off. Sadly, some may not be able to totally get away. For those, minimizing the interruptions caused by work issues can go a long way toward keeping everybody happy.

Handling work email

Getting important work email is common on vacation, so handle it in the easiest way possible. That means reading them on a smart phone which can be done very quickly. Responses that need to be sent so you can file the message and forget it can easily be done using the onscreen keyboard, or even better by voice. This will keep responses short and to the point.

Make a concerted effort to only deal with email that is really important. The majority of messages don't need to be addressed right away. You're on vacation, so do your best to ignore the fluff.

Determine a good daily regimen for dealing with work email. You don't want to spend much time away from friends and family so decide a routine and stick to it. A few minutes in the morning and evening will usually be enough time. Don't even look at email at any other time so you can enjoy the holiday and not constantly be worrying about work.

Use Google Inbox

Inbox from Google, available on iOS and Android, does a good job over time figuring out which emails are important. It automatically presents those front and center, so even those who get a rash of email every day can quickly see which messages need to be dealt with right away.

Don't overlook the snooze function of Inbox. Since you want to keep your work to a minimum, snoozing a message will bring it back up later rather than letting it sit, bugging you to deal with it.

To get the most out of Google Inbox you'll want to start using it at least a few weeks before heading on your trip. This gives it time to better learn what is important to you and what can go in the later file.

Use a tablet for involved tasks

You've been restricting your communication with clients and colleagues, and minimized your time away from play. Then comes the one email you can't escape that requires an involved task done right now.

This is where a typical tablet -- iPad or Android -- can step in to help make short work of the job. There are apps that handle any work task, even Microsoft Office. If you must work on an Excel spreadsheet or write a report in Word, that can easily be done in the apps for iOS or Android.

If such exercises are common, it might help to bring a mobile keyboard for your tablet. There are plenty to choose from -- some very inexpensive -- and using one can make it much faster to plow through the work effort.

Use a 4G hotspot

Hotel Wi-Fi can be expensive and terribly slow, and since you want to keep work functions to a minimum it is better to avoid the wireless in the hotel or public venues. This is especially true if you're vacationing abroad.

See also: One thing all travelers should do for good connectivity in the hotel

Use your phone as a 4G hotspot for your tablet. The connection will usually be faster, and it is definitely more secure than Wi-Fi. Keep your personal and work sessions away from prying eyes by tethering your tablet to the phone. Most phones can tether multiple devices at once (typically five), so you can get your travel mates safely online, too.

Leave work at home

Many won't want to hear this but the best thing that can be done for mental health is to totally leave work behind. A week or two without worrying about what is going on back in the office is one of the most relaxing things you can do.

Spend all your time with friends and family, enjoy the beach or other local attractions. Have fun that is stress- and worry-free. Remember, you'll never have this time again.

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