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Create Rules for Out of Office Replies in Microsoft Outlook

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Did you know that you can create rules for your out-of-office replies in Outlook? This is a fantastic way to keep control of your inbox while you are disconnected and on vacation.

It's important to prepare for your vacation time at work so that you can truly relax and enjoy your time away. By properly preparing in advance, you can automate tasks, set up systems and processes, and plan ahead to make sure that you don't have to worry about anything when you get back.

One of the best ways to prepare for vacation is to automate your emails before you head out. For example, set up a Bookings calendar so internal and external connections can schedule time with your executive business partner while you are out (just like Calendly), set up rules for your out-of-office replies, and automate your emails before you ever leave your desk. This way, you don't have to worry about coming back to a pile of work.

We all feel the intense pressure to check our inbox and respond to this one pressing email, and then we are tempted to check our emails when we are supposed to be running on the beach with our boo. It is a no-win situation ... unless you prepare ahead of time by creating a plan to manage your emails, so you are fully present for every moment.

Use Rules to Reply to Your Emails Automatically

If you're not already using rules, now is the time. Rules allow you to respond automatically to emails based on specific criteria. For example, if a message comes from a specific contact or if it contains a certain keyword, then automatically reply with a template.

You can also set up rules that forward messages to other people so they can respond on your behalf while you're gone. Setting up rules for your out-of-office replies is next-level productivity.

  • Click on file

  • Click on automatic replies

  • Create your out-of-office message

  • Select rules in the bottom left of the box

  • Click on add rule

  • Edit rule

Move Your Emails to a Vacation Folder

Personally, I like to create a rule that will filter all of my messages out of my inbox and move them to a temporary folder (usually titled 🌴Vacation Emails). This way, I am not constantly getting pulled into the inbox drama, and I am not tempted to check my emails while on vacation. If I do choose to look at my emails, then it is intentional and not just because I see 300 unread messages on my notifications.

This also gives me peace of mind knowing that emails won't get lost in a sea of messages. When I get back, I quickly filter out the fluff in my vacation folder and triage the emails that I need to respond to or need my attention.

I follow a specific process for catching up on my vacation emails. You can click on the button below to check out the how-to.

Determining the rules for your out-of-office reply takes a little time, but it's worth the effort! By automating certain tasks and creating systems and processes, you can make sure that your workload is taken care of before you leave. Consider automating your out-of-office replies in Microsoft Outlook to make sure there's no stress when you come back.

Now go off and plan your next vacay or mental health day so you can put this into practice.

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