The Best (and Worst?) Autoresponders of 2007

89 Comments


Reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form. (Photo: marinegirl)

An increasingly popular approach for escaping the inbox is the routine use of e-mail autoresponders.

Love it or hate it, reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form.

I’ve collected some of my favorite autoresponders of 2007 from Gmail and included them below.

The styles range from polite and hat-in-hand to direct and full-frontal, and include examples from both employees and business owners… Names have been changed.

Have a good (or amusing) autoresponder to share, whether real or made-up? Drop it in the comments and give someone a helping hand or a good laugh :)

The Standard:

SUBJECT: I Received Your Email

Dear Friends, Clients and Colleagues,

Due to high workload, I check email twice daily at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM EST Monday-Thursday. I respond to urgent email at those times and endeavor to respond to all other email once a week, on Sundays at 6:00 AM EST.

If you require urgent assistance (please ensure that it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 9:00 AM or 2:00 PM, please contact me via phone at 555.666.4416.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Sincerely,
Joe Louis

Polite and Boss-Friendly:

SUBJECT: Please call if it can’t wait until 11am or 4pm

Hi all…

In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list.

Going forward I will only be checking/responding to email at 11a and 4p on weekdays. I will try and respond to email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of our clients and brand identity.

If you need an immediate time-sensitive response… please don’t hesitate to call me. Phones are more fun anyways.

Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorter lead times with more focused & creative work on my part. Cheers & here’s to life outside of my inbox!

All the best,

John “The Employee” Doe

Short and Sweet:

SUBJECT: Off of E-Mail — Call if Urgent

Thank you for your email! Due to my current workload, I am only checking email at 11am and 4pm. If you need anything immediately, please call me on my cell so that I can address this important matter with you. Thank you and have a great day!

-Tom Brady

Take No Prisoners:

Subject: I’m sorry but your e-mail has been deleted

Hi, it’s Simon Cowell.

I’m on a project until February 4 — your message has been deleted and will not be seen.

Please re-send after the 4th. Or if something is urgent, please contact helpme@hairychest.com.

All the best,

Simon

Take No Prisoners with a Smile:

SUBJECT: I’ll be back August 14th…

Hey, it’s Jimmy here…

I’m traveling on vacation and will return on Tuesday, Aug. 14th.

[website or Google calendar URL] < --- That's my schedule

All email I receive until that time will be automatically deleted, so if you have a dire emergency, contact my Executive Assistant, Jack-o-lantern at (555) 444-2525.

That way I’m not overwhelmed with playing “catch-up” and I can hit the ground running and give you the immediate attention you deserve when I get back.

Fair enough?

I appreciate your courtesy in advance and look forward to our paths crossing again after Aug. 14th.

All good wishes,

Jimmy Liu

###

The Universal Language of “No, I Didn’t Get Your E-Mail”:

SUBJECT: Penelope checks email twice a day/mira el correo 2 veces al día

Dear customers and colleagues,

Due to high workload, I am currently responding to email twice daily at 11:00 am and 4:30 pm CET.

If you require urgent assistance or response (please ensure it is urgent) that can not wait, please contact via phone at +22-555559878.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency, effectiveness and focus. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Have the greatest day,

Penelope Cruz
————

Estimados clientes y colegas:

Debido al gran volumen de trabajo que tengo actualmente estoy contestando al correo dos veces al día a las 11 de la mañana y 4:30 de la tarde (hora Madrid).

Si necesitas hablar conmigo con urgencia (por favor valora si es de verdad urgente), no dudes en llamarme al móvil al +22-555559878.

Mi intención es ser más eficaz, concentrarme de verdad y sacar más adelante para atenderte mejor.

Ten un día estupendo,

Penelope Cruz

###

Nothing But The Facts:

SUBJECT: I’m busy

Hello There,

I don’t chek e-male much. To much reading. Bye.

GW

###

Related and Popular Posts:

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now

The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)
Chapter 6 – The Low-Information Diet: Cultivating Selective Ignorance
How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again

Posted on: February 21, 2008.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

89 comments on “The Best (and Worst?) Autoresponders of 2007

  1. Hi Tim! I’ve been inspired to put an auto-response on my work email. I think it’s working since people have actually called to tell me that their email is a “must read”. So far, so good! I’ve been in the military for 17 years, have worn the “Bat-Belt” on/off over the years (Blackberry, Palm & mobile phone) and am continually appalled at how people (read: BOSS) will email rather than walk 20 feet or call, just so that the conversation is well-documented. That’s the CYA concept for ya!

    Like

  2. Hi — I read recently, perhaps in the NY Times (inspired by the 4HWW?), where a reporter gave up email for a week. Instead, she relied on the telephone. As usual, she initially suffered the usual anxiousness one experiences when giving up a habit; nervousness, irritability…a sense of impending doom! But after a week she found she focused less on the trivial and more on the important. And by using the phone she developed actual relationships with those she communicated with that she never did before.

    With regards to the auto-responder, I forgot to mention I don’t use one. As mentioned, I check email everyday at 3:30 pm so I usually am able to respond to everyone the same day. And I don’t give out my cell phone number. I let most of my calls roll into voicemail that I check a couple of times a day and that I return as well in the afternoon. I have to say, I feel quite liberated breaking free (sort of) from the email ball and chain. A wonderful feeling.

    Like

  3. Love the 4-Day Work Week. If you are only 31 years old – you look really old per your picture. Bad photographer? I would have guessed you in your fifties.

    Are your interests and driving personality wearing on you? This is not meant to be a criticism – just an observation.

    ###

    LOL… wow. I’m not sure how to answer that. Most people guess mid-20′s when they meet me, so I guess it must be the photographs :)

    Tim

    Like

  4. These are some excellent points indeed! Now that I’ve adopted a personal policy of reading less email, I have more time to check out blogs like this one! Keep up the great suggestions!

    Like

  5. Thanks for the great post Tim! I just picked up a copy of your book last week, and I love it. I have to say, I didn’t pick it up earlier, because I thought it would be some kind of get rich quick scheme-y thing. So glad I was wrong.

    That is what I get for judging the book by the cover ;)

    A couple resources I have found:
    #19 Pascal:
    I am with you – I hate the phone. I signed up for Callwave.com’s visual voicemail, so all of my voice mails arrive transcribed in my email box now. The cost probably isn’t worth it for many, but the service is a huge timesaver for me. There is a free trial.

    #38 Ken: Notetaking/Organizing:
    I use Microsoft OneNote and have no idea how i lived without it (yes. i did say that in the same sentence with the word ‘Microsoft’). It lets you set up notebooks with sections & pages.

    The 2 nicest features:
    1) when i copy and paste from a website, it automatically generates a link back to the page i copied from, so when i am reviewing my notes, i can find/reference the source material very easily.

    2) Can save directly from outlook to OneNote, so I no longer have a 4BG outlook backup file. (which makes your whole computer drag).

    You can download a 30-day trial and the best price on OneNote is at Amazon for about $60.

    Thanks to all the follow-up comments on the posts on this blog. They are really helpful!

    Cheers,

    Kelly

    Like

  6. Come on Tim!

    What do you need to tell me when you´ll be again in Baires?

    Ok, I´m raising my invitation: not a Finca Flichman, but a “Fond de Cave Reserva” Is that enough?

    Like

  7. Hi Tim & Everyone,

    I love reading this blog since there is always something interesting and new in there.

    IMHO, the real trick lies not in autoresponders and the such, but in formulating your instructions in a way that people don’t need to doublecheck or get back to you for further instructions. That way all the email you ever get are confirmatory “job done” emails and loveletters from your friends and family. Besides, if people don’t get a reply straight away they usually find a way to solve the problem without your input, autoresponder or not.

    Cheers,
    Stef

    Like

  8. Tim, subo la oferta:

    Hacemos un Terrazas Cabernet, cómo la ves?

    Aparte te presento a los organizadores de Palermo Valley (ayer juntamos 300 personas en un bar sólo a través de twitter) y a los de StartMeUp Argentina, que llenamos 500 lugares para el evento en 36 horas.

    Cóom la ves?

    Like

  9. I send a few huge files to myself just before going on holiday. We only have 500MB of storage per user, so anything sent while I am away gets bounced back, and its the ‘systems’ fault not mine:)

    I have done the same with voice mail – our provider lets you store 50 messages – just leave plenty and its soon message full time.

    Like

  10. Hello, this is Carl Kasell of the NPR news quiz, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

    Patrick will be out of the office until next Tuesday, at which time he’ll be able to read your email.

    Have a nice day.

    Like

  11. I have now ‘enforced’ my new email policy to varying effects. Ironically enough in the first week the vast majority of email has been collegues just wanting to see the reply. Please also see my response to anyone who flips out about it. My message below:

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,

    In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox than I do focusing on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ‘to do’ list.

    Going forward I will be checking/responding to email that has been sent directly to me at 11am and 4pm on weekdays. Emails that have been cc’d to me will be read and replied to, if required, twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday therefore if you require me to take action please send it to me directly. I will try and respond to email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of the business.

    If you need an immediate time-sensitive response…please don’t hesitate to call me on my mobile (XYZ).

    Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorter lead times with more focused & creative work on my part. Cheers

    All the best,

    Kai

    Responding to someone getting a bit angry that every time they send me an email they get the out of office reply……

    I thank you for your frank feedback – yes I do understand that this will happen. If you seriously have an issue with receiving this automated reply, and understand my new email policy, I will be more than happy to come up to your office to set an email rule that will send it to the trash whenever it reaches your inbox :)

    My favourite – Here is a friends very humourous modification…….

    I will be out of the office starting 22/05/2008 and will not return until ever…….

    Dear Friends and Colleagues,

    In an effort to increase personal productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox than I do focusing on my personal life.

    It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ‘social interaction’ list.

    Going forward I will be checking/responding to email that has been sent directly to me at 8am-8.05am on weekdays. Emails that have been cc’d to me will be read and replied to only if they are humorous. I will try and respond to your email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of my personal business.

    If you need an immediate time-sensitive response…please don’t call me.

    Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorter lead times with more focused & creative socialising on my part. Cheers

    All the best,

    Like

  12. dude, I love this…..what it makes me think is that if you are this busy then you must be great at whatever you do and you know the value of your time. I think that the first one said something about increasing lead times. Well, if you have a service or product that you are sending out to customers then I think that the customers are going to think that you are working to get things out as soon as possible but that you will get back to them in a timely manner.

    It’s sets expectations and most people can respect that

    Like

  13. Make your point in 140 characters is my motto.
    Therefore, my autoresponder is as follows:

    Dear email sender,

    I highly appreciate it that you sent me an email.
    I will read your message, unfortunately I dont have time to respond to all my emails.

    In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list.

    * Are you looking for product information?
    Check out my website: http://www.brandingpersonality.com

    * Need a quick response to your message?
    Send me a message on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hensel

    * Want to schedule an appointment?
    Please check my agenda to see which dates & times are available and send me a Google Calendar invite.
    http://www.mariekehensel.nl/mijn-agenda/

    * Anything else?
    For all longer or irregular requests, one of my assistents will be happy to help you 24/7 on the phone: +1 877 747 3263

    Here’s to life outside of my inbox,

    Marieke Hensel
    We take your name to fame!

    Like

  14. Hi,

    Does anyone know how to create an autoresponder in Apple Mail (Tiger) and MS Outlook 2003 (Windows), that can be limited to be send only once every 4 days or let’s say a week to the same recipient, is customizable (text and title, so not with the default “Out-of-office” title) and is running/working even when the computer (client) is is powered off???

    I’ve been searching for hours and still haven’t found the solution. :((
    Your help is very much appreciated!!

    Greetz,

    Vincent

    Like

  15. Tim,
    Yesterday I used one of the autoresponder templates, with some minor tweaks:(See below)

    I was called into a conference room by my supervisor with a print out of it in his hand, saying: “I understand where you’re coming from, but I’ve already had one complaint from someonw saying, you mean he won’t have his email open all day!” We just need you to stay on top of every email, this is how we run. I explained i have my meeting reminder and email open i just am not going to respond unless need be except the hours listed. I won’t miss a thing, just trying to repel the 100 or so employees who feel the need to respond to ALL that they’re happy we got donuts or bagels today.
    His answer, oh just delete them.
    Problem is is when you work for a large corporation that does not measure productivity, offering to quadruple it means nothing cause they don’t measure it anyway. F’ing pissed me off.
    But hey, I tried.
    They may have won the battle but I do not give up that easily. I t will probably cost me my job in the end, but this is insanity!
    I dig the book, keep the advice and facts rolling!
    -Chris

    “Hi all…

    In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list.

    Going forward I will only be checking/responding to email at 11a and 4p on weekdays. I will try and respond to email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of our clients and brand identity.

    If you need an immediate time-sensitive response… please don’t hesitate to call me. Phones are more fun anyways.

    Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorte rproduction times with more focused & creative work on my part.

    Cheers & here’s to life outside of my inbox! “

    Like

  16. Jeepers! Today was day 1 of having my auto responder on – and I’ve ALREADY had complaints.. One client in particular saying to me “AND NOW??? WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?????”

    and yes, he was shouting – he’s that kind of guy! I wonder how long it’s going to take to train people to respect my time!!
    My response to him was this:

    Dear XXX

    E-mail is the largest single interruption in modern life. In a digital world, creating time therefore hinges on minimizing e-mail.

    In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I have begun a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list.

    I will respond to email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of my clients.

    As mentioned below, if you need an immediate time-sensitive response…
    please don’t hesitate to call me.

    Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorter lead times with more focused & creative work on my part.

    Kind regards
    Samantha

    Needless to say – not a peep to be heard back from him.. :)

    Like

  17. Dear Mr. Fourhourweek,

    Thank you for your recent post to your blog which triggered a rss to email alert to autoresponder to imacros script email trigger to comment post.

    I am sure it was very interesting and that I will enjoy listening to it while I am jogging after the text is copied and converted to mp3 and streamed to my cell.

    I have enjoyed listening to all your posts and book in the past.

    A FAN :)

    Like

  18. I’ve cleared my desk so I won’t be distracted. I’m reading the book. I get to page 94 and think, “What they hey? I’ll send the email.”

    What I get in response is a permanent failure message. You’re right. This is an excellent strategy for cutting down on your email. I’m going to try it next week.

    Like

  19. Dear Tim,

    In your Dutch version of the 4 Hour Work Week, there is a passage on how to implement the auto responder. You mentioned your own autoresponder at the email adress timothy@brainquicken.com or timothy@brain-quicken.com (at the end of a line and the word is broken off). I was very curious and send you a mail. But it seems the address does not excist. Can you please give the example of the autoresponder you currently use for brainquicken.
    Thank you.

    warm regards from the Netherlands,

    MarieL

    Like

  20. Just added mine to ONLY check email once a week on Fridays! What a relief … thanks Tim! You’re enabling me to spend more time with my 12 month old son. :) Andrea

    Here is my new autoresponder….

    SUBJECT: Thank you for your email :)

    MSG: Thank you for your message!

    In an effort to increase my precious time with my 12 month old son and become more efficient with my current workload:

    *I am currently only checking and responding to all emails at 9am PST on Fridays.*

    IF YOU ARE AN EC SIMPLIFIED READER/CUSTOMER:
    If you’ve written to me about EC Simplified, do not worry…your email was also copied to my teammate and, if urgent, it will be handled promptly! You can also visit my FAQ page for more help with common questions: …

    URGENT MATTERS:
    If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that can not wait until 9am PST on Friday, please contact me via phone at 555-555-5555. My team checks this voicemail as messages are received and can alert me to your urgent needs or take care of them for you.

    Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and more time with my son. It helps support all of us!

    Warmly,
    Andrea

    Like

  21. I slightly edited my auto responder. From “Due to high work,” I now have “To fully author my life…” The reason I made this change is that the previous opening gave a message that I was overwhelmed by work and not in control of the design of my life. With the edited new opening, I affirm that I am the author of my day, I design my life. Which, I believe, is more in tune with the philosophy of the NR life style….. ;)
    Warmly,
    Aldo

    Like

  22. I was recently on a Southwest flight enjoying a mini retirement :) and reading their Spirit magazine when I came across an interesting article about a new start up that goes through your email, automatically finds all your subscriptions, and condenses them into one email per day (that you can even choose when to receive). It takes 2 minutes to set up and is very simple. Just go to unroll.me and follow the few simple steps. I just signed up today and am looking forward to a much cleaner inbox :)

    Like

  23. A little bit of everything. Deflect, deflect, deflect.

    With a little bit of humor, and a combination of a bunch of different autoresponders, I was able to write the following. I was very appreciative that I had access to all of this information and I wanted to follow suit and share mine.

    The point of this is to deflect all questions back to the individual so that they can find the answer on their own…and quicker. I don’t leave my cell phone number in the autoresponse because if it is someone important they should already have it.

    I have a support team for a reason and they should be utilized. The specifics of when I am actually checking email I find important, I just didn’t feel it was important enough to tell the client that bit of information, it may or may not coe off rude so I just left it out. If you read the below carefully, I have inadvertently told the sender that your emergency is not my emergency and there is someone else who can probably answer your questions a lot quicker than I will…and this is how you can contact them or find the information you are looking for.

    This going live today. If I remember I will follow up with how it went. Enjoy!

    Thanks T – your 4HWW mantra is so inspiring and I have appreciated it very much. Keep doing what you do because you do it really well.

    Subject: Help me…help you. Help me, help you.

    That’s what I’m talking about!

    Jerry Maguire? No? Well, I thought it was…forget it.

    Anyways, I really care about your time and needs (no joke) and I want to be absolutely certain that I am able to offer you the best possible service and care and I want to do that in the most effective and efficient way possible.

    Hence, the autoresponder…and some quick links to help you get the information you need so that you can keep moving forward with your day and the task at hand. Sound good?

    For complete product information and links to our manufacturers websites, please see our new line card here: <>

    To request a quote or inquire about a product, please see our quote request page here: <>

    For technical assistance, product information, service requests, and parts orders please contact one of our applications engineers here: <>

    For order status, ship dates, lead times, billing information, and general inquiries please contact our office here: <>

    Please take advantage of my entire team and the information above for the fastest possible response. They work tirelessly to ensure that we are continuously exceeding your expectations!

    If your question requires urgent assistance and cannot be answered by one of my team members send me a text message or call me on my cell phone and I will respond to you as fast as I am able to.

    What is the point of all this? Hopefully, this approach will result in shorter response times with more focused and creative work on my part and will help me accomplish more to serve you better.

    All the Best,

    Me

    Like

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