Stale Emails



1 min read

The value of an email is inversely proportional to its age.

In order to properly benefit from time off, it is better to disconnect fully, so it is commonly accepted wisdom that one shouldn't read emails on the beach. But in addition to that, I recommend not reading emails that came in during that time at all.

Why does this work? Because the people you work closely with should already know that you have upcoming time off, and have already gotten any time-sensitive context from you before that. And those you don't work closely with should be able to get what they're looking for from your teammates.

If your bus_factor == 1, fix that. Let others lead too, make yourself replaceable. Be a good example for your team by NOT being online while you're on vacation. Come back fully recharged, and encourage your teammates to do the same.

Here's the template I've used for my auto-responder for many years:


I’m on vacation until <date>.

This email will not be read, so please slack me after this date if it is still important then.

For support, please email <team_support_email> or consult the #<team_support_channel> slack channel.

For anything else, please email my manager at <manager_email>.


Feel free to steal it, tweak it, use it!