That may sound contradictory at first glance, but it’s sound advice from Microsoft Research scientist danah boyd about taking an August email sabbatical:
Communication is the key to an email sabbatical. Disappearing without properly making certain that everyone has what they need is irresponsible and disrespectful and people will get pissed off. They’ll be offended. They’ll think you’re all high and mighty. But when you go through steps to make sure everyone’s covered, it’s amazing at how well people respond. And, often, they too start taking email sabbaticals, guaranteeing everyone gets the reset they need.
People often ask me if I’m frantic about the thousands of emails I must’ve missed. Again, because I’m a geek and use procmail, I have log data. What’s funny is that, aside from the first 48 hours where people like to test my bounce message, people stop sending me email. With all of these steps in place, people actually leave me alone.
This is heartening, as it’s part of a growing discussion about not just whether taking an email sabbatical is a good thing (this BBC News magazine piece is another good data-point), but how to go about doing it– how to arrange it technically, but also how to manage it socially. The formation of social norms around a practice is always a good sign.