Perfecting the Vacation Auto-Response
I have been finding ways to manage the dual stress of entrepreneur and venture capitalist through 7-day breaks with the simple objective to ensure that
- I am (almost) completely off my digital devices
- I have time earmarked every day to read books
- I am disconnected from work, especially my emails
- I am pursuing a hobby or spending quality time with family
So, as I write this blog post from the departure lounge at the airport, embarking on my 4th 7-day quarterly break I am excited about the benefits these breaks have provided me. I return from these breaks with my creative batteries recharged, armed fresh perspectives on solving issues within Artha or the portfolio we manage and (most importantly) my energy levels are renewed and restored to 100%.
However, a major stress factor for me before (and after) these breaks is the massive pile-up of emails that I am supposed to go through once I am back. I thought that my auto-response emails that inform the sender that I am out of network and my replies will be limited until I am back would reduce the influx. However, I would also come back to a bigger email problem than I had assumed and I would get hounded by people in the first 2-3 days after I was back in the matrix.
I realised that the issue was that the auto-response implied that as I soon as I was back I would be responding to those that had sent emails in my absence which wasn’t going to be the case. Therefore I needed to try something new. So when I read a post from Brad Feld from 2015 wherein he talked about dealing with the same issue that was plaguing me, I was all ears!
Brad's post was refreshing because it puts the onus of being on top of my priority list, on the sender of the email, not the receiver. I believe that the approach is brilliant but for someone of Brad’s stature especially as Indians are highly affected by the tone of something more than its intent. I deliberated over this for most of the evening and I decided that I should test whether my fears are grounded in reality. Therefore if you are one of the people that emails me in the next 9 days you will receive an immediate response that will say:
I’m checking out for a vacation until the 24th of September, 2018. I’ll be completely off the grid.
When I return, I’m going to archive my inbox so I’ll never see this email. If you’d like me to read it, please resend it after the 25th of September, 2018.
If you need something urgently, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll either help you or get you to the right person at Artha Group to give you a hand.
Anirudh A Damani
I am going to test out the hypothesis that those that really wanted to reach out to me will make the effort to reach out to me on the 25th of September and if their issue requires an urgent resolution the competent hands of Sandesha will be available. In essence, I have made the decision that the renewed energy I bring from the 7-day breaks should be expended on my portfolio companies and my team instead of cleaning up my inbox!