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1Vacation Technology Tools Seven To Help You Still Look Busy Even When You’re Not

HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com)HootSuite (and other social networking management tools) gives users the ability to schedule status updates and posts for a future time. Spend a few minutes prior to your vacation setting up a bunch of posts to go live when you’re kickin’ back on a beach somewhere, and voila! You look productive, even though you’re sipping margaritas.

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iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid or other smartphoneWhether you have an iPhone, a BlackBerry or another smartphone with a data plan, you’re probably taking it with you on vacation, and unless you’re an adventurous sort about to head into the wilderness, you’re probably going to get cell phone coverage from wherever you are. Although it means actually doing a bit of work while enjoying your time off, a few minutes here and there to quickly answer an email to field a critical call can make it seem to co-workers and customers that you’re keeping busy instead of lounging by a pool.

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Email schedulingMicrosoft Outlook and many other email applications let users schedule when to send emails. Craft a few carefully-worded emails prior to your departure (hey, it gives you something to do while waiting to board your plane) and schedule them to be sent out at various times throughout your vacation period. Send them to co-workers, clients and business partners.

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Email autorespondersYou know those autoresponder messages that you use to tell people who contact you that you’re on vacation? Instead, change the notice to something like: “Your email has been received, and I will get to it as soon as possible.” Not only does it look like you’re busy, but that you’re so busy you have to prioritize your email responses. Or simply mention that you’re travelling (don’t specify if it’s business or vacation) and that your voicemail and email access will be limited until you return.

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IMWhatever your business’ choice of IM software is, turn it on while you’re off puttering about on holiday, but keep your status turned to “busy” or “away” or another status message that suggests you’re working but too swamped to respond to messages. This tactic also works well at the office so you can concentrate and get some work done.

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Google Docs (docs.google.com)Since Google Docs (or any number of other online document creation and sharing services) is a cloud service available anywhere you can connect to the Internet, so you can check in at times throughout your vacation if you feel the need to. Make minor changes to documents or ask questions to make it look like you’re working hard at your desk instead of throwing back your third Mai Tai.

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Google Voice (www.google.com/voice)Google Voice can let you send calls straight to voice mail, transcribe the messages (not very well, but it gives you an idea of what they are all about) and puts them in an inbox-like interface so you can quickly scan them. Google Voice also lets you set up which phones to ring – your office phone, your home phone, or your mobile – when someone calls you. Just make sure you use it judiciously so you don’t ruin your vacation!

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The Appearance of WorkLooking busy when you’re on vacation is all in appearances. Your bosses, co-workers and/or employees know you’re on vacation, but with appropriate application of technology and some pre-planning, your customers and business partners may never know you’ve left the office for a week to get some rest, relaxation and (hopefully) beautiful weather.