Whenever I’m off the grid for a week, I always come back to loads of email. I used to schedule nothing for my first day back and just go through all my email while getting back in the flow of things. That made for a shitty day, and usually damaged my calm that had resulted from my week off the grid. Recently, I tried something different. Here is my vacation reminder from that trip:
I’m on vacation and completely off the grid until 12/8/14.
I will not be reading this email. When I return, I’m archiving everything and starting with an empty inbox.
If this is urgent and needs to be dealt with by someone before 12/8, please send it to my assistant. She’ll make sure it gets to the right person.
If you want me to see it, please send it again after 12/8.
I’ve heard the complaint, over and over again, that email allows other people to interrupt your world. There’s something about taking control of how email interacts with you that is very satisfying.
(1) My brother Tim uses a similar vacation auto-response. He adds a wonderful line after “If you want me to see it, please send it again after I return”: “Otherwise, please do nothing, and your email will gradually melt and disappear like an ice cube in the summer sun. Perfect vacations: Time with family and friends; books, but no email.”
(2) All this assumes you’re not checking email during vacation. See Bandwidth’s no-email vacation policy and Paying people to take real vacations.