How To: Set Up An “Away Message” For Your Cell Phone

Getting back in the driver’s seat of your mobile device (Pt. 1 of 2)

Originally published on December 14, 2018


Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, because you’re about to get a crash course in mobile mindfulness.

I’m excited to share a simple iPhone hack that has worked wonders for me over the past year. It takes about a minute to set up the first time, but more than makes up for it down the road.

For the full walkthrough, check out the infographic below!

Don’t worry Android users, I didn’t forget about you. As usual, you’ve got a bit more flexibility in terms of customizing your device, so you’ll have a number of options for setting this up. The best one I’ve found is this one, on the Google Play store, that allows you to schedule your auto-replies among other features..

Now that you’ve turned your phone into a virtual secretary, you can enjoy the rest of my (auto)mobile metaphors undisturbed.

Even if you’ve used the normal Do Not Disturb mode before, activating the auto-reply feature may feel strange at first. Depending on how personal you make your message, it can feel a bit formal. But I challenge you to stick with it. Having been at it for almost a year, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • People would rather know that their message is unseen than wonder if it’s being ignored.
  • Digital wellness is a hot topic and this message is a great conversation starter.
  • It leads directly to more phone calls and face time.
  • Real emergencies are extremely rare. Everyone’s definition is different, but I’ve yet to miss a truly urgent message/call.*
  • (almost) Everyone will respect your space. The occasional Bitmoji will come through as “urgent”, but trolls have short attention spans.
  • If it rubs someone the wrong way, then they most likely aren’t someone you should be communicating with in the first place.

*Messages can be pushed through if followed by the text “urgent”. Similarly, multiple calls from the same number will go through if they are within 3-minutes of each other.

Whether or not this away message becomes part of your mental maintenance routine, the most important step is creating more distance between you and your device. In a literal sense, this can mean putting it away when you get home or charging it outside your bedroom at night. If that’s too ambitious, something as simple as silencing your ringer can make a big difference. For more mindful methods, stay tuned for Part 2…

… It’s time we start driving our mobiles instead of letting them drive us.

One comment

  1. Andrew I cannot tell you how freeing if feels to use the “Away” message!! If I were to compare the feeling to something familiar I would say it feels like a mom that’s left her kids with SuperNanny, Jo Frost!!! When it’s enabled, I know peeps are aware I’m actually “unavailable” and that gives me tremendous peace of mind and the boldness to enjoy whatever it is I’m investing my uninterrupted time doing. I’ve used it while driving, spinning, shopping with my daughter, family dinners and even a nap! It’s actually a bit fun to sign back on and see what I’ve missed…but only when I decide the time is right for replies, etc. Thank you for carrying this right to my tool belt…I will use it from now on with confidence, happiness and tremendous satisfaction!

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