Last month, I gave you an "I'm on vacation" auto-reply that guarantees you don't get swamped with a backlog of email messages the moment you get back. That solves only part of the problem, though. What about voicemails, calls and texts?

A backlog of voice mails is even worse than a backlog of emails because with voice mail you must review each message to determine what's delete-able. And nobody wants to be pestered with business calls and texts while on vacation.

Here's how to prevent your phone from ruining your vacation:

1. Change your outgoing voice mail messages.

On both your cell phone and your office phone, set your outgoing greeting to:

"Hi, this is [your name]. I'm out of the office and won't be checking my voice mail. Messages left between [these dates] will be deleted. Please call me again after [this date]."

Warning:  do refer callers to somebody else at your workplace because in almost every case all they're going to do is take the message on a post-it and stick it on your screen.

2. Max out your voice mail inboxes. (Optional)

Some callers may try to leave a message anyway. To prevent them, call your office number repeatedly the day before your trip and leave enough long messages to fill up your inbox.

Note: since some voice-mail programs automatically terminate a message if there's no dialog, simply leave the messages while listening to your favorite podcast on a loud speaker.

When you return, delete all the fake messages you left and you're good to go.

3. Make it so only family members can call and text you.

Unfortunately, I only know how to do this with a iPhone (thanks to Mashtips), so if you've got an Android, you'll need to figure this out yourself.

On your iPhone, go to the "Do Not Disturb" settings, which are accessible from (you guessed it), the Settings app. Make these changes:

  1. Set "Do Not Disturb" on.
  2. Set "Allow Calls From" to "Favorites"
  3. Turn "Repeated Calls" off.
  4. Set "Activate" to "Manually"
  5. Set "Autoreply To" to "All Contacts"
  6. Set the "Auto-Reply" messages to: "I'm on vacation and am not answering calls or texts. Please contact me after [date]."
  7. Go to the Phone app and tap "Favorites" and then the plus sign (+). Add your family members to that list. While you're at it, remove any work contacts that you might have favorited in the past.

At this point, nobody can text you (they'll get your auto-reply instead) and only your family (i.e. favorites) can call you. If you need to trade texts with your family, have everyone download a separate messaging app, like Telegram, and use that rather than iMessage.

When you make these changes, not only will you enjoy an uninterrupted vacation, but you won't come back to an annoying bunch of voice mails. Just as important, though, you've shown the world that your personal time belongs to YOU and not to THEM.

Lest you think this selfish or "not being a team player," consider this: you will get more done in the long run if you take the time off to truly relax. After all, why should your most valuable resource--YOUR TIME--be at the mercy of anyone who can use a phone?

Published on: Jul 2, 2018
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