Naked Truth Autoresponders

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The other day, I got what I’d call a Tim Ferriss-style automatic reply (autoresponder) to an email letting me know that, in order to be more productive, the sender is now only checking email twice a day. That’s cool. I can respect people batching their time in the name of getting more done.

But, it got me wondering…

What if people said what they REALLY wanted to say in those auto-responders, instead of being diplomatic?

Here’s what mine would look like for the next 3 months. At least the PG version…


What would YOURS say?

Share away in the comments…

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48 responses

48 responses to “Naked Truth Autoresponders”

  1. April says:

    Thanks for making me laugh really hard this morning!

  2. Dick Carlson says:

    Dear [name of unknown email correspondent]:

    I read email using Outlook in the “preview” mode with images and HTML shut off. My finger is twitching on the mouse, and all I see is the text of your email for about three seconds — no images, no HTML, no colors or formatting or graphics or dancing pigs.

    You might want to preview your email like that, because lots of people with a technical background do the same — it’s much faster to load, it avoids virus problems, and it really separates the wheat from the chaff.

    This allows me to absolutely FLY through my email, as 90% of what comes in gets deleted in 1 second or less. Most of the rest stays on the screen for only a few seconds, and is then deleted or quickly routed somewhere else — a folder, forwarded to someone, or sent to someone as a quick joke about what an idiot you are. (Offering me copy-writing services and being unable to spell or properly use an apostrophe, for example.)

    I’m not really out of the office. I’m just doing real work, and don’t want to talk to you. Piss off.

    Love and sparkly Unicorn poop.


  3. Hugh says:

    That’s just great stuff! I really think that email vacations (and computer vacations in general) are superbly underrated.

  4. I think I could do better with my email.

    Mobile access means that I deal with it as a stream throughout the day, rather than a giant batch 1-3 times, but I wonder if that false sense of efficiency is a red herring.

    Like most people, a lot of my email isn’t personal and doesn’t require a specific response – it’s opt-in and can be handled within a second or two (skim, decide if it’s worth reading, etc). And the obvious personally addressed emails are immediately worth some action. It’s that ambiguous stuff in between, where I’m not immediately sure of what the action is, that makes things difficult.

    Definitely, email bankruptcy and a team of VAs would make things a LOT easier, though 🙂

  5. Adam King says:

    I figured this would tell the truth….all naked and out there. Strangely, after looking at it, I’m really considering enabling it! ha ha

  6. Corey says:

    Hey, thanks so much for emailing-

    That is of course unless you are one of the countless emails that come in disguised as real emails but are actually spam filled crap. Not that your product or service is crap, but really, it’s not that fine of a line between the two … just saying.

    If this is an email from an actual person, then heads up. I hate email, except for when I want to contact people without having to actually talk to them since that serves my needs.

    If you are using this in the same vein as I do, well done.

    If not, and you are actually hoping someone responds to this request/question/plea/problem then know this – calm down, breathe, and grow up. You know what you need to do. So do it already and stop wasting time avoiding whatever it is by emailing me.

    Peace and love-

  7. Joe Jacobi says:

    Oh, please write me an auto-responder message, please oh please?

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Gone paddling. And I’m not coming back. May I suggest smoke signals as a faster way to reach me than email?

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, remarkablogger, Paul Roetzer, Laurel Miltner, Craig Fifield and others. Craig Fifield said: RT @remarkablogger: RT @jonathanfields Naked Truth Autoresponders (pls RT) […]

  9. David Lynch says:

    I might add:

    “If you’re thinking of making end-run around my email moderation plan by sending a message via a social network, or more traditional voice conveyance, that won’t work, either. I check those media less often than my email.

    I recommend you picture me wearing a set of noise-canceling headphones, grooving on my favorite musical muses while pouring wildly-creative missives onto the digital page. I can’t even hear the cat fight raging right outside my studio window.

    Again, I can’t wait to share all the latest developments with you…in February.”

  10. Don’t you love people who are compelled to tell you that they can’t get to you because a) what they’re doing instead is so much more interesting than interacting with you or b) they’ve imposed productivity measures that triage their inputs volume and you didn’t make the cut-off benchmark or c) some variation of above?

    Back in the day, when you called someone and the phone rang and rang and rang, you figured they weren’t home or didn’t want to answer it. Not much difference now, so why the compulsion to clarify on either side? Can we just get over ourselves? 😀

  11. If I were to write one with the honest-to-god naked truth it would be something like…


    In an effort to maintain the guise that I can do more work than humanly possible, I often forget about my email.

    Utterly & completely forget.

    It’s not my fault. You see, I don’t really have superhuman get-it-done powers. And I don’t really like email… which is why it gets forgotten.

    I’d be happy to talk to you. Can you fit it into 140 characters?


  12. laughing out loud Jonathan !

    I guess mine would say “if it’s that important then pick up the phone”


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Funny, I actually had someone from our tribe read today’s post and call the tel # in the email only discover it’s my real, working offer number…that I never answer, either. lol!

  13. I LOVE it Jonathan!

    hmmmm — mine would probably say

    “If you are contacting me because you want a more creative and satisfying life — guess what, it doesn’t involve so much email! First step, go out and do some stuff you love, lots of it. When you get back, you might have an answer from me. If not, repeat step one, you might find the answer on your own. That’s what I’m doing.”

    ~peace and joy~

  14. Peter Ahrens says:

    Mine would say something like:

    Thank you for emailing me!

    Because my email inbox is currently near-empty due to the lack of people emailing me and my habit of checking my email every few minutes, I will most likely get back to you in the time it takes for you to read the email.


  15. Hi Jonathan,

    This was hilarious. What a great start to my morning!

    I’ve been going through my emailbox with a heavy hand and first, unsubscribing from almost everything (except yours of course) and second, deleting all the newsletters,etc. I never opened in the first place.

    The part that gets me are the systems that want you to give your reason for unsubscribing.

    My diplomatic response is:
    Reducing email overwhelm

    What I REALLY want to say is:
    Ugh! Gag! Yuck! Your email is choking me here! I don’t care what you’re selling or thinking anymore!

  16. Not sure how but this totally got me thinking about “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and the voice-recording when Mr. Rooney comes to visit and rings the door-bell… Haha!

    Anyway, I’m all out of wit this morning otherwise mine would say something just as (or nearly) clever 🙂

  17. Julie Halsey says:


    Mine would read something like:

    “Unless you’re offering me BIG BUCKS for my creativity, insight, wisdom, and overall brilliant ideas that would help you change the world and your life – then hang on ’till I have some spare time to get back to you and I’m not exactly sure when that will be since I’m busy changing the world and enjoying my life!”

  18. beth says:

    You are too funny!

    Hmmm….I do have an autoresponder that Dan Kennedy would be proud of however mine would really say something like:

    Seriously? Another email? This is 4 this week. I know you are having an event, I know the early bird discount is expiry, I know you have lots to say and I know I am not going to buy your program otherwise I would have signed up the first time.

    I say in my autoresponder that I only check my email twice a day but the truth is, I only say that so that I can not respond to yours.

    If however you are not soliciting anything, well hello then but I still want a little time to work or play or whatever I want and I suggest you do the same.


  19. Su T says:

    My aunt actually had a message on her answering machine that my 8-year-old called in January stating that she would not be responding to messages until late May. My kid was bewildered to say the least.

  20. Instead of using an autoresponer, I just don’t respond. Don’t see the need to rub anyone’s nose in it… although I’ve considered it as a way to backspam the spammers. But I do appreciate the “scenes we’d like to see” version you posted. Thanks for a good laugh Jonathan.

  21. Sonia Simone says:

    Dear Sir/Madam/Other,

    It’s not that I don’t love you. Of course I love you. I love you more than sparkly tennis shoes and Twix bars *put together*.

    Unfortunately, I have developed a crushing phobia of my in-box. Therefore, I will not be replying to you until a) the deadline you are connected to gets ominously close, or b) the deadline you are connected to has passed.

    The truth is, though? You can do that awesome thing you’re in the middle of without me. I’m just your good-luck charm. It was always you all along.

    So click the heels of your ruby slippers, repeat the incantation of your choice, and I’ll catch up with you after my launch/seminar/talk/writing marathon/massage appointment.

    Be well, honey.



  22. Sara Hebert says:

    Thanks for the message.

    I want to connect for real. If you do too, call me and let’s talk about your message. The number is in my signature.

    Because human connections matter to me!
    Be well,
    (signature with all the details here)

  23. Ben Slavin says:

    Riding my motorcycle around the world – I’ll get back to you eventually.

  24. Howdy,

    In case you’re wondering…I don’t answer my phone either. Here are the answers to FAQ’s:

    1. No.
    2. How much will I make? If something, see answer number 5. If nothing, see answer number 1.
    3. Will I get my name in lights or some other kind of credit for answering affirmatively? If no, see answer number 1. If yes, see answer number 5.
    4. Will you be serving food? If no, see answer number 1. If yes, see answer number 5. If there is an open bar, I’ll be right over.
    5. Yes.

    If I have answered yes to your question, please call my wife and just make sure she also says yes. If she says no, I mean no.

    Have a nice day.

  25. rey says:

    busy making chocolate plus we are all one so may not respond

  26. I usually answer my emails in less than 24 hours, but I wish I could stay away… damn iPhone 🙂

    If I would set up an auto-message, mine would probably go something like this, because at this time of the year in Norway, it’s almost dark 24 hours a day.

    I am looking at the stars right now, the stars are beautiful. Then you sent me this email… I rather look at the stars again.

  27. Suddenly Susan says:

    On a serious note, I deactivated my FB account in September because after a year of being on it as I discovered none of my friends were conversing with me via email any longer and I found the “drive-by” conversations on FB to be so shallow. How much thought and effort does it take to hit the “like” button? I have received more meaningful emails from a few friends in the last month than I did all of last year. For me, I’m not sure the “social” network is quite so social. I realize we’ll never go back to hand-written notes … sad. However, I understand there are those in the business who probably do need auto responders, no doubt. Sign me, old fashioned.

  28. This is freakin hysterical! I am trying to think of a clever response but my brain goes on vacation over the weekend 🙂

  29. Thanks for your note!

    As a lame attempt to bring some sanity to my life, I’ll only be checking this email box twice a day, from 12:00 – 1:00 during lunch, and from 6:00 pm – midnight.

    While this new change will completely kill my ability to eat in peace, work out or spend any time at all with my family, I will now be able to get through your 300+ daily emails all at once, and sometimes with a legal buzz.

    Furthermore, the lack of constant distraction should allow me to finish at least two things, however small, every day. My ultimate goal is that by the end of 2011 I will be able to wean myself off the blood pressure and anxiety medications I’ve been driven to these last few years.

    All that being said:
    – if you are a personal friend and your note is non-work related, please call or text me because I really do want to make sure I see it.

    – if you are selling something, please just attach your materials and know I’ll get to you when I’m dang fine and ready, which may be never.

    – if you are a client or boss sending a new project request please know it will get in line behind all the unfinished ones you have already asked me to do with a completely unrealistic time / budget.

    And if you are just cc’ing me for fun, please “unsubscribe”

    Thank you and best regards,

  30. This is especially funny given not only that my email signature may very well have been the one that inspired it…

    … but I almost never saw this post because I filter all newsletters into a separate file to keep them from leaping into my eyeballs unbidden and distracting me from my creative work.


    The problem, of course, is that sometimes I miss stuff. :-}

    But I have to admit, I’ve been a helluva lot more productive since I made that filter….

    Thanks for giving me a good laugh this morning.

  31. Jonathan,

    We get it. You are super busy and super successful and can’t be bothered with anyone who is trying to reach out. Sure, lots of email is fluff, and if not monitored or at least prioritized can suck up lots of time/energy that is better spent elsewhere. I get that. I understand the need to focus on your writing too.

    So am I the chump for opening your emails and actually reading them?

  32. This is exactly why I have a really old Nokia and am repelling every one of my friends’ attempts to encourage me to buy an iPhone. I already hate talking on the telephone and then to combine that with constant email access? Sounds like torture to me. (Of course, in every other respect I love Apple and think they’re a genius company.)

    So my autoresponder:
    Gone to do yoga. Suggest you do the same. Not sure when I’ll get back to the emails, but time is an illusion anyway, so am guessing it will be sometime in the present.
    Namaste 🙂

  33. Jonny Gibaud says:

    Dude, please , please just do it.

  34. Master Scott says:

    Very funny! Perfect timing, don’t you love a full inbox on Monday morning! Thanks for the post.

  35. Tim M says:

    G’day [recipient]

    Who are we kidding? I’m not *that* important. When I get back from coffee/Kung Fu/Surfing/Snowboarding/Checking my RSS feeds/breakdancing/chasing hot girls around, I’ll respond to your email coz that’ll get you to respond again (hopefully not by autoresponder!) and then I’ll feel loved.

    Unless you are my mum, in which case – hi mum! Love you, loads to tell you, will call tonight, k?

    Otherwise, yep, I’ll get to you asap.



    My mate read the 4HWW and he’s turning into an obnoxious twat. I’m all for high ROI (I=time) but being obnoxious to friends etc is just silly.

    Life is not that serious, and no one is THAT important.


  36. Dear X,

    This month, I’m only responding if you happen to be a pilot & there are promises of frequent flier miles & endless supplies of wine involved.

    If you don’t fit this description, however, you’ll have to wait.


    P.S. I’m serious.

  37. Andrea says:

    Please choose from the following options. Read the list carefully as menu items have changed.

    1. I have already answered that question, please check your inbox.
    2. Do your own math.
    3. Nothing has changed since you asked an hour ago.
    4. If you ask again, the answer is “no.
    5. I was working while you were on vacation, so now it’s my turn
    6. You want it when??? HAHAHAHAHHAHA!
    7. No, I cannot advise what to do with your marriage, as I am not trained in that field.

    Have a great day!

  38. Liz says:

    For work:

    I’m not going to answer your email today. Probably not tomorrow, either. Maybe next week, but that’s a long shot. If this is desperate, pick up the phone and call me. If this is a sales pitch, the answer is no. If this is a personal email, use my personal account for pete’s sake. Anything else will be deleted “accidently” or put in my spam folder for future spam editing. By the way, if you by some miracle had a good idea and I decide to use, I won’t let you know. Nothing personal.

    Have a good one.

    For personal mail:

    Hi, I got your email and I’m not a paid counselor. Don’t really wish I could help. I have to go do nothing right now. Talk to you later, or not. And as for my weekend plans, I plan to sleep and eat pancakes. Not planning on going out Friday, or texting — my cell phone will be off. Talk to you in person at the pre-planned party Saturday!


    Man, that is some sad commentary on my email messages.

  39. Stanley Lee says:

    Came across your site from Chris Guillebeau and Colin Wright. Love the audacity of your autoresponder even more than Tim Ferriss’s example btw (the latter example isn’t that extreme).

  40. Rob says:

    currently 400km within the artic circle. I’ll get back to you when my fingers thaw out.