The Right Way to Set an Out of Office Filter

You'd think it's quite easy to deal with your email when you go out of the office for an extended period of time, right? It's not.

Sure, you could just set an out of office auto responder and call it day. If you're anything like me you will be annoyed to see all of those emails piling up in your inbox.

So what is my fancy solution? Mark all inbound emails with a particular label -- and then later I just have a single place to review when I need to clean up my email upon return.

The catch-all filter:

Matches: -{qwerttyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm OR "COMPANY - URGENT"}
Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "OUTOFOFFICE"

The escalation filter:

Matches: from:(@COMPANY) subject:("COMPANY - URGENT")
Do this: Apply label "OoO-ESCALATION"

So what's going on here?

For the catch-all filter -- unless the email includes "qwerttyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm" (and arbitrary mashing of keys) or "COMPANY - URGENT" then the email will skip my inbox and be labeled as "OUTOFOFFICE". Notice the negation - in the match field.

For the escalation filter -- if the email comes from one of my coworkers (replace COMPANY with the name of my $dayjob employer), and the email contains a subject line of "COMPANY - URGENT" then leave it in my inbox (so it will alert on my phone) and label it with "OoO-ESCALATION" so they're all in one place.

Organized, and easy. When I return from vacation I just remove the 2 filters. Done.