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CEO to CEO: Unplugging for the Holidays

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, November/December 2013 Leadership

Summary: CEOs share their tips for getting away from the busywork and enjoying time with family during the holidays.

How much do you unplug from the office during the holidays?

I try to check my emails once in the morning and once at day's end and only reply to critical items, delete routine reading items like news letters, and then rely on my competent staff to call me if there is something important or time-sensitive.

—Mona Buckley, CEO, Professional Insurance Marketing Association, Chicago

The key is to have the right balance year-round, not just at the holidays. Small-association staff members wear a lot of hats and sometimes work crazy hours. When you have limited staff, there are year-end items that need to be handled that last week of December and first week of January. We are more concerned with what gets done than with face time in the office.

—Ernie Hartong, executive director, Association of Residential Cleaning Services International, Las Vegas

To truly unplug, I have to make a very concerted effort to not touch my phone or tablet. The best way
for me to do this is to stay busy, be engaged with family or friends, and realize that the world will not end if I skip a day or two of email. Honestly, this is a significant challenge for many of us. Bottom line: I am plugged-in, addicted, and need help—as do others.

—Peter Weinstein, executive director, Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, Cypress, California

I find that checking email twice a day lets me relax, knowing email is not out of control and that there are no ongoing crises. If there is a crisis, I can check that the characterization of the crisis is complete and that the remediation plan is adequate. As my new management team gains more experience, I expect these checks to become more and more perfunctory over time.

—Norman L. Fortenberry, executive director, American Society for Engineering Education, Washington, DC

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