Summer is once again upon us, and chances are, you’ve got one or more trips planned. While you may be tempted to keep your phone in your pocket, ever-ready in case of a work emergency, resist that temptation. Instead, set up an out-of-office reply for your email, kick back, and enjoy your break knowing your inbox won’t be flooding with unnecessary emails. Here’s how.
First, disarm your emailer (“the enemy”) by thanking them for contacting you. This unexpected display of gratitude will catch them off guard and brighten their spirits. And if not, it’ll hopefully entice them to not email you again until you’re back in office.
After this, you can be as creative or boring as you want, but follow these basic guidelines for optimal inbox results.
- Keep it brief. The emailer may now have to send an email to someone else. Don’t make him or her read through a novel to find out who this person is. They won’t.
- Indicate how long you’ll be out. This should minimize repeat offenders from filling your inbox until they know you’re actually back.
- Don’t be condescending, and don’t instill jealousy. You’ll just undo all the goodwill you’ve established with that “thank you” at the beginning of your message. They might even send you additional emails out of revenge.
- That doesn’t mean you can’t be funny. Or creative. Show your personality! Let them know you’re sipping piña coladas on the beach or trapped in the car with shrieking child. Maybe even cultivate mystery: If you don’t want to share your plans with the world, go with something like “I’m on a top secret mission and unable to divulge my whereabouts.”
- Triple check for typos. The last thing you want is an inbox filled with face palms or LOLs at a grammar mistake or embarrassing typo.
- Make sure your autoreply only sends once per contact. So that if another coworker is also on vacation, your accounts don’t get into an out-of-office ping pong message war (which, while funny for about .8 seconds, is really just hell for everyone involved).
At the end of your message, be sure to list the contact information for the person running things in your stead. Include their name, phone number, and email address, if applicable. This way, follow-up emails aren’t sent to you, further crowding your inbox and increasing the likelihood that important messages will get lost in the deluge when you get back.
Let’s put all this together in a sample out-of-office message.
Thank you so much for your email! Unfortunately, I’m out of the office backpacking in the Alps until Friday, July 15th. If you need me, try yodeling. Or just email my colleague Joe Dirt at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll get back to you ASAP.
Now you can enjoy your trip somewhat reassured you won’t be returning to a complete inbox nightmare. Oh, and remember to turn off your auto-reply when you get back.
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