One of my clients has an auto-response set-up perennially for his email address i.e. whenever any mail is sent to him, the sender receives the same mail any day which goes like this:
I am currently unavailable and will not be responding to email.
For anything related to invoices, please contact the Invoice Team at email@example.com. Please ensure you provide the invoice receipt confirmation over the mail when connecting with the team.
For future reference and escalations, please drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional queries, contact email@example.com.
The mail clearly sets-up the expectation that no response is to be expected from his side and people may contact the provided distribution list (mail addresses) in case of anything urgent related to particular topics. But that doesn’t mean the person is unreachable-whenever I required his attendance for a few sessions, he was always there (he was intimated regarding his requirement through one of his team member).
The entire approach mentioned above is a brilliant demonstration of leveraging technology in a smart manner to work for you (by freeing up your time for critical matters) as opposed to against you (by cluttering up your inbox maintaining which eats up majority of your time).
But many of you may be thinking that this particular approach can be adopted by only those who are at a very senior level. But that is not quite the case, the proof being the aforementioned client has to report to many people above his level and since auto-responders work across emails, even his seniors receive the same response if they try to contact him. I’m sure he has set up means of communication with his seniors. Taking a cue from this brilliant example, you can try setting up polite auto-responder in the following manner:
Owing to ongoing engagements, please expect a response, if required, from my side post 04:00 PM. In case of anything urgent, please call me or reach out to me over Zoom.
You can try modifying the time to a specific period of your convenience (e.g. every Thursday at 04:00 PM, by end of each week etc.). A couple of things to keep in mind while setting up such auto-responders:
(1) Communicate about the auto-responder to the critical stakeholders/seniors and establish a direct line of contact (like requesting them to directly ping you over Zoom/Teams etc. over mail which is easier and faster)
(2) Do not put your phone no. in the signature. This will help you further reduce unnecessary calls since most of the time, the critical stakeholders will anyways have your phone no. For the rest, they can anyways reach out to you through the organization-provided IM like Zoom, Teams etc. which you can respond to or delay the same as per its priority.
Acknowledging the fact that while this approach may not work for everyone, for the ones who can adopt this method will enjoy a greater autonomy and control over the mail box and better focus for engaging in critical tasks.
I hope this tip improves your daily schedule, gain control over your communication stream and helps in improving your overall productivity.
Thanks for your time.
See you tomorrow!!!