Friday, November 26, 2010

How to Deal With Disparate Holiday Schedules Across Continents

Yesterday was a holiday here in the U.S. (Thanksgiving), and many people make a long weekend of it, hosting friends or family or visiting them. In Europe, however, where most of my clients are located, it was a regular workday, as is today. As a result, e-mails responding to my latest marketing effort and/or offering translation projects kept arriving while I was preparing for out-of-town guests and an elaborate dinner for 8+. That's the downside of working across borders, I guess.

While some holidays are pretty much standard across countries and cultures (New Years, for example), many are not. In addition, the earlier timezone in Central Europe means that e-mails from Germany, Austria, England, etc. have already poured in before I even get out of bed at 7 a.m. my time. One possible answer to this situation would be to limit my working hours -- and thus the hours during which I respond to e-mails -- to the standard work day in New York City, where I live. That would, however, likely cost me a number of projects, if not clients.

So instead I rely on technology to let me deal with business during off-hours in New York. Business e-mail is routed to my smartphone (in addition to MS Outlook on my desktop computer), and I can even write short MS Office documents (Word, Excel) on my phone. That means I can answer e-mails while setting up breakfast for my family or cooking dinner for guests. If the e-mail requires additional research or information I can at least respond that this is a holiday and that I'll reply more fully by a specific time or date.

Had we driven to visit my daughter and her husband in Philadelphia, instead of them coming to us, I would have taken my netbook to write this post, then used their internet connection to actually post it. Instead, I'm taking a quick break from hosting and cooking to write it from the desktop in my office. Mobile technology is great for staying in touch even when we're doing other things!

How do you deal with disparate holiday schedules and the demands of your own family and friends?

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