Randy Dean's Timely Tips

You may have read Timely Tips on Randy Dean's web site, but now you can interact with it here on Blogspot.com. Please feel free to add comments and tips of your own, and thank you for your continued interest.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Using E-mail "Out of Office" to Set Expectations

I was delivering a Taming E-mail session at the Michigan School Business Officer's Annual Conference in Grand Rapids this morning, and one of the program attendees reminded me of one of the strategies I feature in my new e-book. It was such a timely reminder, I've decided to use it for this month's Timely Tip.

The strategy is simple: most people have access to an "out of office" autoreply tool in their e-mail software program. People use this tool to let people know when they are on vacation, out of the office for a conference, away at an offsite meeting, etc. -- you know the drill. One of the program attendees today asked, "Do you ever recommend for people to use the out-of-office tool to manage and set expectations for e-mail response?" I responded quite affirmatively -- yes, that's in my new book! Here are two ways you can do just that:

1. On a regular daily basis, keep your "out of office" tool on, but have this message always bouncing back:

"Thank you for your message. I just wanted you to be aware that, by habit, I typically only check my e-mail 4-5 times per day, to balance being appropriately responsive with meeting my position's productivity requirements. Any urgent message will be responded to typically within 1-2 hours, and almost always within the day received, and non-urgent messages can expect some form of a reply from me within 24-48 hours. If you have something that is more urgent than this, please contact me by telephone at my office line #: 555-555-5555."

By having this message constantly on, you set a reasonable and appropriate expectation for anyone sending you a message, with very clear parameters on an expected timeframe for a reply. If they have something hotter, they know they need to call. This will keep those "blingers" that expect immediate response to everything they send under a bit of control, and open up some time for your personal sanity and productivity.

2. Another quick tip: Set up your e-mail autoreply to tell people that you will return from your vacation 2-3 days after you actually return to the office. That way, you will have a couple of days to go through all of the hundreds of messages and voice mails that tend to build up over a vacation or extended time away from the office. That way, you don't have to dread returning from a vacation, as people will not expect your replies for a couple of days after you return, as you dig out from your info overload. And, if they get a reply a day or two early, they'll be pleasantly surprised. (By the way, I do recommend that you tell your boss in particular the actual day you will return -- just use the padded date for everyone else. I don't want you losing vacation days because of your autoreply message!)

SAVE THE DATE: Thursday, May 22, from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

That Thursday, I'm going to be delivering a special 90-minute Taming E-mail Teleseminar with help from special guest host and popular author/speaker Tony Rubleski (http://www.mindcapturegroup.com). In this 90-minute session (plus Q&A at the end), we'll cover most of the better strategies from my new e-book on Taming the E-mail Beast (learn more on the e-book at http://www.emailsanityexpert.com).

And, we're going to be offering several valuable bonuses for all program participants, including a free copy of my new Taming E-mail e-book, a free e-book copy of Tony's first Mind Capture book, access to a program audio replay, and more, all for a very affordable registration fee, further discounted specially for Timely Tips subscribers. (And of course, savvy participants could listen to this live teleseminar on a speakerphone and/or in a conference room in their office so several people could benefit from a single registration fee -- I can't believe I just shared that with you!!) We are building the information and registration pages for this program right now, and we'll be sending a formal announcement on the program next week. For now, just go block your calendar (and do me a favor and forward this little note to your HR/training director too!)

A Couple Quick Taming E-mail E-book Updates

Progress continues to happen with this project, notwithstanding the crazy speaking schedule I've been leading. Here are two important updates:

1. The e-book version of Taming the E-mail Beast is now posted on several popular e-book shopping sites, including http://www.powells.com, http://www.diesel-ebooks.com, http://www.echapterone.com, http://www.booksonboard.com, and http://www.ebooksabouteverything.com. That being said, you'll still get your very best deal and access to many special bonuses by visiting the web site we've set up for this book and my related Taming E-mail speaking training programs: http://www.emailsanityexpert.com.

2. Those of you that have already purchased the book should now know that the special "reader's only" web site that coordinates with the book is now up and operational. We'll continue adding relevant and useful content to this site in upcoming months, but it is working right now. Of course, to get access to this special "reader's only" site, you've got to get a copy of the e-book!

3. We're working on a podcast recording of one of my recent Taming E-mail conference programs. This will likely become an additional free bonus for Taming E-mail book buyers very soon.

So, we're continuing to do more every day. Keep reading your Timely Tips for more updates.


Many of you that have attended my past Time Management and Finding an Extra Hour programs (http://www.randalldean.com/programs.html) also know that I am a certifiable golf nut (you may have seen my Outlook and Blackberry notes with all of my club yardages for virtually every conceivable type of golf shot.) Well, our baby is now sleeping better, I'm getting back to more rested and healthy, and I think it is time to resurrect my golf game. But, the best time for me to do this is during work hours, as my weekends are jammed with family stuff. So, I'm calling out to all of my Timely Tips readers to help me justify my crazy golf addiction -- here's how you can help me:

1. Are you a client or prospect? Do you want to talk to me about a program idea for your company or group? If so, I'll pay for your golf to hear about your program idea, so I can get out there with you too! (I might even be willing to travel out of state to do this.)

2. Are you a product or service supplier that has something you think my company could really benefit from? If so, you can get a couple hours of my undivided time and attention if you pay for the golf (I'll be happy to buy the beverages). Of course, I won't make any promises about purchasing the product or service, but at least you'll get my attention! ;-)

Since I'll be doing business, I can, as George Carlin said, justify the time and money hitting that little white ball, into a little white hole, hundreds of yards away, with items totally unsuited for the task. So, send me a note or give me a ring, and help me resurrect my golf game!

Until next time,

Stay Timely!


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