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PragDave: I'm on vacation, and I've deleted your message—really (pragdave.blogs.pragprog.com)
170 points by queensnake on Nov 13, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

Interesting idea, but I highly dislike it.

The entire point of email is that it is the "leave a message and I'll get back to you" mode of communication for the Internet. It is not the "respond right now" mode - that is what IM and chat rooms and other real-time communications are.

I have things to do too, you know, and keeping track of someone else's schedule in order to be able to send them an email isn't on the list. The whole point of email is that I can send on my schedule, and you can read it on yours. Now you're taking that away from me and forcing me onto your schedule.

All one needs to do is put a vacation autoresponder on their email account, and then have the self-control to not read email while they're out.

> The whole point of email is that I can send on my schedule, and you can read it on yours.

A major cause of email overload is that senders don't respect the "you can read it on yours" part of that statement. Instead, they send emails requesting info that they need to act on within a specific window of time (usually hours or days). This implicitly assigns recipients a time limit, because responding too late would be considered rude. If you're receiving 500+ emails a day that expect a prompt response, you don't stand a chance.

Communication works both ways. If you can't be bothered to take my schedule into account, then don't contact me. Complaining about this is akin to complaining about someone having a secretary.

>> This implicitly assigns recipients a time limit, because responding too late would be considered rude. If you're receiving 500+ emails a day that expect a prompt response, you don't stand a chance.

This issue is addressed with a standard "Out of Office" response.

The difference here is that Dave is making everyone who emailed him wait until some future date to re-send any non-urgent message.

It significantly reduces the workload for Dave but increases the workload for others.

I'd be curious to hear the reaction of people who emailed him and had to wait to re-send their message.

>> It significantly reduces the workload for Dave but increases the workload for others.

Yes, but that's to be expected. If you're a very popular person, people should have to compete for your time. That's marginally inconvenient for them, yes, but it makes your life livable. It's like important CEOs having a secretary.

> It's like important CEOs having a secretary.

I've never understood why busy people don't use staff to "pre-clean" the inbox. Especially if you get dozens of emails a day. After a vacation (heck, every day), I spend a lot of time deleting spam, daily reports, and threads I'm cc'd in (but get resolved by others).

I do that, and it's the greatest thing ever.

For 3 years now, I've had a full-time assistant who filters all my email, handles the FAQs, and only leaves a few per-day for me - just the ones that only I know the answer to.

Anyone interested in this, feel free to email me for details.

...and my assistant will get back to you. :-)

Tom Osborne (the legendary Nebraska football coach and now athletic director for those who don't watch college football) does this. In fact, he sends and receives his email through an assistant, at least when dealing with the public. Still personal, but I imagine it helps him stay sane.

> I've never understood why busy people don't use staff to "pre-clean" the inbox.

Most of my friends who have admin assistants do have their admin assistants do this. The admin assistant prioritizes every incoming email.

They respond to the ones they can, forward on emails better suited for other people and flag important emails for their boss

In fact

they send emails expecting an immediate response because they know you will respond immediately. i respond to emails within 24hrs. people know this, and don't expect anything faster. if somebody does expect a faster response, that's too bad. you need to reassess your understanding of rude and manage people's expectations of you. if somebody expects me to interrupt what i'm doing to answer their email, that's rude of them.

if anybody requires an urgent response from me, they can try a synchronous method of communication. in the meantime, i've got things to do.

All one needs to do is put a vacation autoresponder on their email account, and then have the self-control to not read email while they're out.

Dave's problem isn't self-control while on vacation. It's the mountain of email he'll have when he gets back. He very well might have a full-time week of just responding to email after a trip.

(A friend of mine just got back from his honeymoon, and it took him two full-time days to clean out his inbox - and he's a startup founder, not an internationally known author/speaker like Dave.)

Not only are you being forced onto his schedule, but unless you've read his blog post you won't even know what his schedule is.

If I go away on holiday, I reserve a few hours of my first work day when I get back to scanning through email and working out when I'm going to reply. It seems to work reasonably well - occasionally I'll get someone who didn't know I was away grumbling about a late reply but a quick apology usually satisfies them.

As a sysadmin who ends up getting a lot of autoresponder messages (e.g. in response to emails sent from a website, or from mailing lists) they are an unbelievably irritating 'feature' which I wish had never been invented - although most of the annoyance is down to the fact that the vast majority of autoresponders don't seem to remember whether you've already sent them a message, so they reply every time.

I think this is a copy of an auto response and it has the schedule in it?

Its actually my human right to 'force' other people to communicate on my schedule. Our own time is actually all any of us have.

You are free to decide if your gem of wisdom is important enough to actually notice if I get it, or just fling it into the ether. Your call.

And by the way, I'm not going to read any replies to this post. Just letting you know.

It's to help manage all the emails when he returns, only some of which will still be relevant at that point.

Consider the case where Dave's response causes the sender to realize, "Oh, well, I'll take care of the issue this other way then."

That's one fewer email Dave will have to deal with when he returns. The traditional out-of-office strategy would result in the initial email, and possibly even a second "Oh, don't worry about it, I already took care of it." followup email.

In the late 1990s I worked for a large government agency as part of a job that employed over 1200 contractors (Welcome to government work.) Each day I'd get incredible amounts of email -- most of which was completely useless to me.

Before I left, I asked if I could form a small team and take part in a 2-3 month project. They had initially planned on a team of 20, but I felt that small teams, left alone and working in small timeboxes, could perform just as well.

Of course, we performed much better than the larger team, but the reason I tell the story is this: for purposes of my own experiment, I stopped reading emails.

The customer loved what we were doing, and expanded the project some. I think it lasted 5 or 6 months total. During that entire time I never turned on my email program.

I finally left the job. God knows how many thousands of emails built up in my inbox. But it was never a problem.

It was also one of the nicer experiences I've had in technology. The team just called each other or walked to each other's cube and chatted when we needed to talk, and the day was nicely free of useless distractions.

Why? I think the problem with email (and IM and FB now) is that everything has the same interruption power. The email from HR with the monthly newsletter has the same ability to disrupt your day as the email from your accountant telling you some terribly important financial news. All of it involves you switching contexts, scanning the subject line, and then deciding to deep-dive on the material or not. Hell, by the time you've switched context, you might as well read the article: your concentration is shot. Ten seconds of scanning an email header might take five or ten minutes to recover from. It's not a good trade-off. Of course, there's also the fact that people email/IM/FB others simply because they can, whether they have anything of import to say or not. You'd think twice if you had to walk over to somebody's cube to show them a picture of a cat, but you wouldn't blink an eye to post an article with the same content to 100 people on FB.

> Of course, there's also the fact that people email/IM/FB others simply because they can, whether they have anything of import to say or not. You'd think twice if you had to walk over to somebody's cube to show them a picture of a cat, but you wouldn't blink an eye to post an article with the same content to 100 people on FB.

Daniel, thanks for talking about this, because it's made me realize how different people's perspectives are when it comes to this technology. I started using IM in seventh grade, and for me it's always been a tool for social distraction. Recently I've started using it for business and for thesis interviews, but I still don't turn it on unless I'm expecting small talk with friends. Ditto Facebook, which was created my sophomore year in high school and the point of which was to give other people opportunities to small talk with you. If I say ten trivial things a day, then other people have ten chances to start a conversation they might not have started otherwise. I dated a girl who I basically met on Facebook Chat, and I strengthened a lot of friendships with people I rarely saw IRL but bullshitted with online a lot. Yet this is social behavior rather than productive. Its only aim is conversation.

Of course, this social software also makes it much harder to pay attention to work, which is why I dropped Facebook for Google+ and now am slowly phasing away from Google+ too. It's a shame that these social sites don't differentiate play from meaningful construction. Come up with a way of filtering people's noise from their signal, so that you can decide: do I want to see important information? Or do I want a lot of time-wasting bullshit? (There is a time for such things, I feel; I've tried cutting it out of my life entirely but it's no fun to be all business all the time.) Perhaps this is a problem that should be solved by using two separate mediums for communication, but that's inconvenient.

Anyway, it's food for thought, and it's going to make me reconsider how freely I fling nonsense around the internet. Thank you.

IM for me is as asynchronous as email. It will never interrupt me like, say a phone call.

But my IM client will be open almost 24h

>Hell, by the time you've switched context, you might as well read the article: your concentration is shot. Ten seconds of scanning an email header might take five or ten minutes to recover from.

I read email only once or twice a day and have turned off all email notifications, which eliminates this objection to email.

Footnote: "turned off all email notifications": exception: I set procmail to play some music whenever my machine gets an email from my girlfriend, but that is a temporary measure designed to condition her and reward her (with prompt responses) for emailing instead of calling.

Oh man - I'd love to see how she'd react to the knowledge that she is being conditioned.

He's the one who is responding to her promptly. Methinks he's the one being conditioned.

No, he's already conditioned himself to answer certain "high-priority" emails quickly while responding with high latency to voicemails.

His girlfriend who will be more likely to change her behaviour in response to this exercise, rather than him (i.e. he's already conditioned himself).

I'd love to see what your procmail setup is like.

Easy enough for me to show you. The relevant recipe is as follows. The c means make a copy of the message, i.e., keep going even if the rule is a hit. The h means save or pipe only the headers. /usr/bin/afplay is specific to OS X.

      :0 c:

      :0 h
      | /usr/bin/afplay --time 6.2 /o/music/live_at_leeds_2/16_miracle_cure.mp3

I check my work email 3 times/day. Once in the morning, after lunch, and before quitting for the day. Since my email is on another box and I check it through an RDP session, it's easy to follow my rules. After I started following this schedule my productivity has gone up A LOT. At first I worried I would miss something important like a server going down, but if there is an emergency I ended getting a phone call anyways.

Dealing with work IM is my next productivity project. It was okay when it was just the developers, but as my role has expanded so has my IM list. I've thought about just turning it off, but I want to remain available to the SVPs who ask rare, but usually important questions. I may just select all the PMs and block them :p

You didn't find it distracting when people walked to your cube to talk? Or was this a very infrequent occurrence (and/or only by team-members, not the business)?

I worked in a similar environment once (Large government contractor on a NASA program). There was lots of cube-walking, and generally, it is a distraction. BUT- You know that when you walk into someone's cube to ask them a question, it will be a bit of a distraction and it takes a little effort, so you make sure you need to before you do. Similarly, when someone walks into your cube, you know they think it is more important than something that would have been sent via email.

Not that it works perfectly, but the default of dumping everything into email is a problem. There are several other, possibly more appropriate methods of communication (phone, in person, waiting until the status meeting, break room chat, lunchtime chat, etc). Email is just the easiest and therefore most likely to be abused.

I think that works with other developers who understands how interrupting someone in the middle of coding is a big deal, but I've worked with PMs and QA people who didn't get the message that asking 4 or 5 questions a day is not cool.

Personally I prefer email for this reason. Too often I've seen coworkers who become "the guy who helps". The guy doesn't say no, who answers questions that have nothing to do with their job. I like to be helpful but I don't want to be the one who fixes everyone else's problems to the detriment of getting my own work done. It's easier to say "you should ask Joe, he's in charge of that process" in an email, for me anyways.

True. And there is also the guy who does nothing but wander between cubes, chatting about nothing. More of a government thing than a startup thing, to be sure. But it puts a cramp in the system.

"Of course, there's also the fact that people email/IM/FB others simply because they can, whether they have anything of import to say or not. You'd think twice if you had to walk over to somebody's cube to show them a picture of a cat, but you wouldn't blink an eye to post an article with the same content to 100 people on FB."

I think you encapsulated YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, among a myriad of other websites with that last comment. That's why I just don't turn any of those on at work. People don't even mean to distract you, but inevitably, they just do. I also keep throw-away email addresses for receiving the (mostly unnecessary) email updates those websites send for notifications and the like. The borders between procrastination and working have blurred so much these days that, even when all studies demonstrate humans cannot and should not multi-task, it's become the norm for people to work with loud (not classical or meditative) music playing, several social networks and news media open in a bunch of tabs, and a miscellaneous distracting website in the background, all while they work urgently on an assignment.

I rarely consider email, or FB to have any interruption power at all. If I'm busy working on something, that is what I'm doing and that is what is important right now, not an email. I usually check email if I'm taking a break.

Unfortunately people waking to your cube has even more disruption power so I'm not sure why you preferred that option. Perhaps you were surrounded by people who used very careful judgement before calling or walking to someone's cube. But "Do you have a second" is not enough. You've already taken up three seconds, and now I have to respond, and to do that I have to guess whether what you have to say is important to me right now or not. My focus is gone. This is why I prefer to work remotely. I decide when to switch focus and for what reason.

> The email from HR with the monthly newsletter has the same ability to disrupt your day as the email from your accountant telling you some terribly important financial news.

Was this before things like automatic filters existed?

Not every e-mail has the same interrupting power in my gmail account. Anything in my "notifications" folder is something that can wait a week. Anything in "receipts" is probably just Amazon reminding me that I bought something. "facebook" can basically be completely wiped once a day without any glaring loss.

For all the talk about email overload, I'm surprised more people don't do stuff like this. It's simple and effective.

Instead, everyone wants an AI solution that automatically separates the important from the fluff. I hate to be a pessimist, but I'm doubtful we'll produce a notable success in this area any time soon, if ever. Priority Inbox certainly isn't it. I spent so much time double-checking its often-wrong results that it made more sense to just stop relying on it.

The unfortunate fact is that the concept of "importance" is vague at best. It differs from person to person, email to email. In many cases, the data that makes an email important can't be found in the inbox at all, and only exists in the real world. If I just met some guy in the hall, and promised that I'd respond to his next email, how will your program take that into account? What about online bank statements, which I normally delete instantly, but which can sometimes be helpful in reminding me to check my account? What about a Facebook message from a girl I find cute vs all the other Facebook messages?

Even humans have a hard time determining the importance of other people's email. Here's a fun experiment: Go through your last 100 emails and write done which ones were important to you. Now have a friend go through the same emails and try to predict which ones you thought were important. You may be surprised at the difference.

Priority inbox works wonderfully for me. I practically never check anything other than priority inbox anymore.

The way it deals with your scenario of meeting somebody new and then getting an email from them is that any email sent directly to you from a new person is marked as important.

The way it deals with your second scenario is machine learning. Everyone's priority inbox behaves differently depending on how you train it.

I only check my priority inbox now too, but I feel that I need a priority inbox for it.

Couldn’t agree more. Couple of weeks ago I almost lost my domain name registration, because Gmail had stuffed the Godaddy notifications under “Bulk” which I forget to check regularly. That being said, there is a way to use AI to cope with email overload, without running that risk. We have built a tool (www.tagwolf.com) that reduces email filing to one mosue click. It uses AI technology to analyze each email and propose the most likely folder for it on a tagcloud. The user just needs to click on the folder name and Tagwolf files the email.

My understanding is that this is fairly common amongst management in large organisations. (This understanding is based on my personal experience, so it may not be universal.)

I've spoken to several people who indicate their busyness by how many hundred emails they have to wade through when they return from holiday, and even met people who seem to accumulate this much email while actually doing their job.

Every so often these people will remark that they've deleted everything older than a certain number of days, on the understanding that if it was something really important then the person would get back to them again.

This is obviously very frustrating for the people sending the emails (and I'm sure I've fallen victim more than once) but I do see the merit in this approach: some people have so many demands made of them that a key part of their job is saying "no" to a lot of requests, and deleting emails is one way of doing that.

Deleting email is a very basic filter and it will generate a lot of false positives. But if something is really important then the person who needs something done will find another way to contact you, or they will contact someone else who can get things moving. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, as they say.

I don't think I'd even consider this approach with a personal email address though, because usually that mail is more important to my life that things sent to my work email address. (Restricting who knows your personal email address is another type of filter, I suppose.)

This is good. I've considered doing something like this and making it part of a daily process -- at the end of every day, any email that I haven't dealt with gets a NACK, and every day starts fresh.

Email is a disaster because it lacks flow control. In person, if too many people try to talk to me at once, they will have to wait their turn, and some will eventually give up or move a little faster when they see that others are waiting. Email lacks this dynamic -- everyone gets to talk at once. Disaster.

what are you talking about ? You read the emails whenever you want, and answer to them whenever you want. Too many people trying to talk to you at once is IM. Email is totally different.

If you want to compare it to something, compare it to regular (snail) mail. It's exactly the same thing.

The solution Dave chose (deleting emails while on holiday) is bad because messages get lost, and it's only caused by his lack of will to NOT check his email every 5 minutes. It completely defeats the purpose of mail.

Imagine disabling your regular mailbox while you go on vacation. What good would that do ?

> If you want to compare it to something, compare it to regular (snail) mail. It's exactly the same thing.

No it's not. Email occupies the space right in between IM and snail mail. It is way more convenient for me to send email than it is for me to write a letter, and that email sends more quickly. People email you for all sorts of reasons they'd never write a letter. I get tech support requests for Tumblr themes I designed three years ago, and people asking me questions about things I've written, and friends asking me what's up, and lots and lots of email from people at my work. Because the Internet lets me publish without going through a journal or magazine, I receive all the comments that, if I were a traditional columnist, would be going to my editor instead. I'm not receiving as much email as I used to when I kept a regularly-frequented blog, but even so it's weary how much communication I receive.

If I spend a weekend without checking my email, then my flow is disrupted. I have too many messages to respond to them all properly. So I prioritize them and answer many of them curtly or delete some without replying at all. Or, I make an excuse to check my email over the weekend.

If I went on vacation, I'd be incredibly anxious about the upcoming email deluge awaiting me on my return. The temptation to check my email and relieve the burden would be immense. I can sympathize with wanting to disable my inbox until my return.

(The other difference between email and snail mail is that with email you know immediately that your message was not received. With snail mail you're waiting at least two days. That's a frustrating wait. The convenience of email makes it less bothersome when somebody inconveniences your attempt to reach them.)

This only works if Dave's capacity for responding to email is greater than the amount of email he actually gets. What happens if Dave never wants to spend more than 16 hours per day on email (a reasonable assumption), and his total incoming email volume would require 20 hours per day to get through? Email would queue forever.

For many people, email is an absolute train wreck.

The solution Dave chose is bad because messages get lost

This is the point. Dave would say that his solution is good precisely because messages get lost. Dave is effectively increasing the barrier to receiving an email, and filtering out emails that don't reach that barrier, which is an economically reasonable approach to the problem. (This particular approach may not end up being the right one, but it is worth a try.)

Huh? Email has that dynamic - You read one email at a time. Each email has to 'wait it's turn'. The only difference is the 'giving up' part: in voice, they decide to give up; in email, you decide it's a high noise mail and skip over it, 'giving up' for them.

If you're really getting that level of email chaff, cut it off at the source. Just throwing out half of it is the Wrong Thing To Do.

Isn't the bigger problem that he gets about 5,000 emails in the first place? Maybe he was exadurting but I'm sure he gets more than his fair share and that's too much while on vacation but I bet he gets too much email while on the clock too.

I think he need an overall change in how many people email him and how he handles email while not on vacation as well as vacation. Deleting emails seems like a short term solution.

The passive-agressive way to do this is to have an auto-response saying you cannot read the email and giving options for resolving issues while you're away. And when you get back, send everyone an email declaring inbox bankruptcy.

People respond positively when they get an email saying "I returned from paternity leave to 1,532 emails and I'm worroed I may miss something important from you. If the matter you raised while I was away still needs attention, please resend it to me now."

This has been tried before and discussed before.

The problem with it is that it sends a message that, "I am more important than you, and nothing you say can possibly be important enough to be worth keeping."

Now, maybe that is even true. But slapping people in the face with it isn't a good habit.

That depends on the wording. What if it said "I'm on vacation, and when I get back, your email will be one of several hundred that have piled up (I get a lot of email). If this is a really important message, please send it again to me later, when I'm back at work. If you don't there is a good chance I won't get to it for a long time."?

Dave just wrote a followup post that can be read here: http://pragdave.blogs.pragprog.com/pragdave/2011/11/followup...

You know there is going to be at least one person who will reply back with "URGENT" even though it's something simple like where do I download that ebook. Don't be that guy.

This reminds me of "Email sabbatical":


At its most crass level, an email sabbatical is when you make all of your email bounce. But you can't simply turn off your email without pissing off countless people in your life. Thus, an email sabbatical is actually a series of steps to let you step away from your inbox guilt-free and return to an empty inbox upon your return.

Posted on April 11th, 2011 and it also happens to be the last post in the blog. Perhaps deleting all inbound emails is that life altering :)

Seeing that this experiment was run in April 2011, I sure would like to see a follow up on how it turned out.

I just sent him an email alerting him to this thread and asking for the results. Let's see if he responds.

Did you specify 'URGENT' in the subject?

This was posted in April, anyone know if there's a follow-up?

I'm assuming it went just fine, but it'd be nice to read about. Especially how many "urgent" emails he got regardless, and how urgent they really were.

This is similar to Linus Torvalds's (former?) practice of "dropping patches" in response to overload.

It's actually not a bad queue management process overall. Local processor offline / overloaded? Drop all but the very highest priority (for email: immediate family, $BOSS) messages.

The late Joe Barr describes this obliquely in his discussion of the development of BitKeeper (git's predecessor as the Linux kernel code repository): http://joebarr.sys-con.com/node/32618/mobile

Loved the idea _until_ that 'urgent' loophole.

I'd have gone the whole way here, there's no (real..) reason for 'urgent' mails during vacation.

I'd automatically blacklist them. I'm sure people who have no respect will not send any good future emails.

Hehe, yeah, it would have been more logical to only keep the messages that DON'T have the urgent-subject :P

Is there a standard convention for "keep-as-later-reference"-subject?

This is not enough, if I would do that only on vacations my productivity would be a small percentage of what it is currently, since email is too much work to provide a decent reply most of the time.

There are many reasons why writing emails is easy but replying is hard. The first is probably that an email that requires a short processing time from the point of view of the reader (read, understand, and possibly reply) must be written very well. Not everybody is good at it, but everybody will send you an email for the most unimportant reason.

So in this moment my inbox contains 5700 unread emails. Not everything is a message directly addressed to me, a few are related to mailing lists, a few about notifications of different types. But there is definitely a percentage of real emails that would require a reply in that list.

So how I deal with this? Using the most brutal of the systems, as brutal is the email problem itself IMHO.

I consider my gmail account as a stream, like twitter. I use the gmail priority inbox to do a first filtering, taking the same account without priority inbox in the iPhone (so that when I read emails with the iPhone there is some chance that I read messages from the 'unimportant' pool).

I also set gmail to show as much emails as possible in a single page. So this is what happens: every email has a time to live this way, from the moment it appears in my inbox, to the moment it shifts away because too many new messages arrived in the meantime.

I reply to conversations in a most-urgent-processed-first fashion. All the emails shifting before they get a chance to be processed are lost from my point of view.

This allows me to set a max cap to the amount of work I've to do for emails. This will make people not happy about you from time to time, but are you ready to trade your work, what you think is important, just to reply to messages that many times are not important enough to be sent in the first instance?

I did something similar on a recent six-week international trip. I set up a dedicated "urgent" account (urgent@mydomain.com) and put an autoresponder on my primary account telling people I was out of the country, with instructions to send their message to the urgent account if the message was indeed urgent. I checked my primary account a couple of times during the six weeks, and handled a couple of things that needed to be dealt with (e.g., the expiration of the UPS box where all my mail was being forwarded), but otherwise I restricted myself to the urgent account. When I got back, I went through my main inbox, but it only took an hour or so and I wasn't overwhelmed by the results.

At one of the companies that I worked at, one of the high-level architects had the same message. His message was simpler, it was something along the lines of:

"I'm on vacation and will be deleting all my accumulated emails when I get back. If it's something important, please resend me the email after <date-of-return>."

Personally I think this is fair because if it's important, the onus should be on the sender to make sure that the receiver reads it. Chances are 99% of his emails were just cc'es anyway, but if it's something that really needs a decision, then the sender should resend it.

I had attended a workshop on time management several years ago, and one of the suggestions was to delete your entire inbox when you return from vacation. The theory was that if something was truly urgent, that person would track you down. If not, it may have already gotten resolved and there's no need to hear about it - a quick status update from your team could be enough.

I've done this several times and it's always worked out well. It's funny how issues that people think are urgent sometimes resolve themselves.

Cory Doctorow also did this, and it worked fine from the other end. It was "deleting" in GOOG newspeak, I suppose it just sits there until read.

There was a detailed, longish autoreply explaining many things, but the gist of it was:


It would kind of spoil the break to come home from it with a mountain of email to answer, so I'm not accepting any email while I'm away. If you need to reach me, please re-send your message after the Nth.

If you need to speak to someone immediately, here are some handy contacts:


I did something similar to this. I recently got back from a 6 week holiday—and I just marked all my emails as read. Easy!

My autoresponder just sends "I'll read your e-mail when I return". In general when reading e-mails takes too much time, I just read and respond to the rest on another day (except e-mails from friends). If you respond to your 200 e-mails immediately, you can be sure to have 100 follow-up e-mails the next day.

I would like to know what percentage of people that set up the standard vacation message ("on vacation, getting back on this day, for emergency contact Jane") DO delete messages they get on vacation, and what percentage read them but perhaps when they get back from vacation.

What about those who just scan the email subject and only read those that matter? Heck that is what I do even when I am not coming home from a holiday.

I think this only works if your livelihood is not dependent on outside communication.

For everyone else, if you make enough $, hire a personal assistant / secretary to stay on top of your email and schedule.

He looks like he can get away with it.

Well, if you are in a position where YOU can pick your clients and/or your employer, this might sound like an interesting or at least unique idea... but if you are just like the rest of us, you will probably have a hell of a lot more vacation coming your way by the time you are back. Unpaid, that is.

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