You know the worst thing about going on vacation? Writing your out-of-office email message. It's always one of the last things on the to-do list along with buying mini-toothpaste, and it's definitely the least fun.
Do you leave contact information? Do you overstate or undersell said contact information's emergency purposes? Do you point people to a poor, helpless co-worker in your absence who will probably resent you the entire time you're gone? These and many other questions (like, is saying where you're going TMI?) plague me the night before I'm headed out of town.
Thankfully, Gizmodo has provided us neurotics with the perfect specimen of an out-of-office email message. They found a vacation auto-reply of a guy named Josh Kopelman, that will now serve as my model for all future away messages-give or take a few key details. Josh's stroke of genius in full:
I am currently out of the office on vacation.
I know I'm supposed to say that I'll have limited access to email and won't be able to respond until I return - but that's not true. My blackberry will be with me and I can respond if I need to. And I recognize that I'll probably need to interrupt my vacation from time to time to deal with something urgent.
That said, I promised my wife that I am going to try to disconnect, get away and enjoy our vacation as much as possible. So, I'm going to experiment with something new. I'm going to leave the decision in your hands:
- If your email truly is urgent and you need a response while I'm on vacation, please resend it to interruptyourvacation@[redacted].com and I'll try to respond to it promptly.
- If you think someone else at [the company] might be able to help you, feel free to email my assistant, and she'll try to point you in the right direction.
· Otherwise, I'll respond when I return…
Let's examine what Josh has done. First he's humanized the auto-reply robot message. Second he's implied that not only would you be interrupting his vacation if you reach out to him, but you'd also be upsetting his wife, which somehow feels much worse. Thirdly, he's created an email account that forces users to write the words "interrupt your vacation" in order to follow through with the disturbance, just in case someone has forgotten what they're about to do. Josh, you are a psychological mastermind. Hat's off.