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April 11, 2007


Robert 'Groby' Blum

Definitely lots of cool tips. I'm not sure about the auto-responder, though. You've now pushed some additional load on everybody who sends you e-mail. (Not to mention the fact that if they're doing something similar, you have a good chance of an autoresponder war ;)

I'd just process it twice a day, silently - nobody expects *instant* answers on e-mail.

Tim Ferriss

Nice work, Heather!

Robert, I'm glad you made the comments you did, as it brings up a good point. I think the value of an autoresponder depends on the expectations of those e-mailing you and the given corporate environment. Speaking from personal experience, people in publishing and large office environments often do expect an immediate response and use e-mail as a surrogate IM. If you silently respond twice per day without setting expectations, it can be dangerous, as those truly urgent issues won't get to you in time.

Regardless, it is a personal choice. As for putting an additional load on others, I've actually heard feedback that indicates group levels of effectiveness have increased once a precedent is set for cutting down on excessive back-and-forth and continuous interruption. It forces others to largely follow suit, especially in companies where email among colleagues is the bulk.

I haven't used autoresponders in some environments, and still don't for certain email addresses I can check silently, but they can be a life-saver in cultures of immediacy.

All the best,



Tim, Robert, thanks for your thoughts. Robert, to you point about silently checking at only those times, yes, I tried that, for about a week before I set up the auto-responder. But I didn't get serious about it until I set up the auto-responder. You see, I realized I was using email as a crutch "I'm busy, I have work to do" and I'm self-employed! I had totally gotten sucked back into the corporate mentality.

Anyway, it's really motivating to take back my time. And putting limitations around email, help me be more creative. I've only checked email once today... and I've got another hour before I need to look at it again. There is so much I can do in that time.


I'd agree about ditching the autoresponder. I run the USGS Earthquake Notification System that sends out automatic earthquake notices to something like 100,000 people. Do you have any idea how many of them have implemented autoresponders? Every earthquake, I would get buried by thousands of "I'll read your email later" messages. It was truly obnoxious. I had to spend a fair amount of time implementing a filter script to find and trash them. It catches probably 99% of them, but I still get about 1/2 dozen a each time.

As was noted above, nobody expects instant results. If you read an respond to email twice a day, you're doing fine. No need to add to everyone else's inbox clutter with auto-messages to tell them about it.


I woke up this morning deciding to try email without the auto-responder and then got your comment Stan... so far, I have NOT been as productive... mainly due to email distractions!

I agree... an autoresponder is problematic, but so is so much email.

Of note: I have most of my subscribed list mail going to a different email address. I wouldn't wish an autoresponder on any list receiving email address.


Hey I like your 4HWW tips!

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Heather Vescent

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