/dev/journal: First week back at work after having had a week off last week, so this week has been mostly about “catching up” in various ways.


I’m pretty good at setting my Out-of-Office message. It usually says something like

I’m out of the office until $DATE. If your email requires a response, please email me again upon my return.

This puts the onus on the sender to resend their message once I’m back, so I could in theory select-all, mark-as-read when I’m back in the office. I don’t usually go that far, but this approach at least allows me to mostly skim messages received while I was out, without worrying about replying to everything.

(Unfortunately, this level of detail in the OOO is only available internally. To not give any phishers any additional information, external users simply get a message saying “I’m currently out of the office, I’ll respond to your message when I return.”)

Another wrinkle in “enterprise email” is all the distribution-lists you end up getting added to, and how difficult it can be to figure out WHY you receive (and keep receiving) certain mailings. At least outside of work, most mass-emails come with an Unsubscribe option, but not so with internal email. In my case, I find it easier to just apply client filtering rules to file away the messages I’m not interested in. I’m a black-belt in email-filtering by now!

Instant Messaging

Our IM system exchanges presence information with our email system, so my OOO message is visible to anyone who tries to IM me while I’m away. That deters most people from trying, but I had one or two missed conversations to some back to. (Unanswered IMs end up in our email.) One was a straight-forward query that I could reply to easily enough, but one simly said ‘Hi, Per!’, which gave me an opportunity to reacquaint myself with nohello.net.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the polite introduction to the conversation, but don’t stop after “hello”! State your business! That makes it easy for me to pickup and reply immediately, rather than respond to ask you what you wanted (and hoping that you even remember!). So - don’t stop after hello!

(There’s nother discussion to be had about high- and low-context cultures and how it affects email and IM, but I’ll save that for another time.)


Last, but not least: Our small team (3 people) is spread across 2 locations 4 time-zones apart, so we do our team check-ins early UK afternoons. We don’t actually “stand up”, but we try to focus our conversation on the 3 Big Questions: What did you do yesterday? What are you doing today? What’s stopping you?

I’ve heard many people deride the venerable stand-up, but I really enjoy them. The conversation helps me not only keep my finger on the team’s pulse, but also helps me focus my energy and attention on what I’m trying to get done. If I go too long without checking in with my team I tend to “float” between tasks and not finish anything, so I come away from our stand-ups feeling focused and energised.