In March, we agreed here that the email auto reply is a political act, because, as I said then, "Every job has its own proper sense of urgency, and the requirement for responsiveness varies. But when it comes to evenings, weekends or weeks away, each of us must cultivate our own sense of confidence—that we're worth waiting a week for, that the work will be there when we return, that we deserve time away because we are not 24-hour, seven-day-a-week air traffic controllers or 911 operators."
My new writer pal Jim Reische just added another dimension to this conversation: using the auto-reply as a way to get work done.
Reische, the VP of communication at Grinnell College, attended my recent Leadership Communication Days event in Montreal last month, and contributed a number of unassailable insights, like this one, where he recommended actually drafting a speech at the location it's going to be delivered.
Like lots of speechwriters, Reische handles lots more than speechwriting, and his desk is buzzing all day with people—which is one of the reasons he likes to do his writing elsewhere.
Which he seems to be doing again, because yesterday I sent him a note, and I got this back:
I am out of the office all week to focus on writing projects, and will respond to your message as soon as possible after I return.
For Communications assistance during my absence, please contact [Assistant].
For urgent matters only, call my cell at 641-XXX-XXXX.
Thank you for your patience,
I stood at my desk and applauded. And hoped I wouldn't hear from him until next week. So far, so good. I look forward to reading what Reische is allowing himself to concentrate on writing.