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My boss wants me to reply “got it” 300 times a day: every time someone sends me something to confirm I received and read the email and archived it.

This has become a robotic job where I have a lot of other things to do besides this, and this request is micromanagement.

What can I do? I thought about making a script that randomly replies a response at a random time in some fixed interval so I wouldn’t have to write this myself, and so that they don’t find out I’m just automating replies. How do I reason here or provide an explanation?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jan 29 at 17:59
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    Are there actually 300 emails each day? That would be about one every minute and a half in an 8 hour day. – DaveG Jan 30 at 13:40
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Just do it

(It'll take no time at all)

In Outlook, you can create custom actions which will do multiple things with a single click. Like so:

enter image description here

This will open a reply ready for you to hit send. If you click the checkbox, it will send it automatically for you.

Bind this to a keyboard shortcut or stick it in your taskbar. Just read the email, click your shortcut, and move to the next one. Your boss will very quickly decide if they actually want you to reply to every single email.


You could automate this if you wanted to, but that would be quickly noticed and would be going against your Boss's explicit orders. The above is almost as easy, and has the benefit of being Exactly what they asked you to do.

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    The most important part is the CC: Boss issuing busy-work tasks. Reply All might be an interesting addition if the boss doesn't get the point. – FreeMan Jan 29 at 15:39
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    Bonus points if OP also replies to auto-replies, in a never ending loop of acknowledgement. (copying in the boss all the while) – BruceWayne Jan 29 at 16:04
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    Change the text to "got it, but haven't read it yet"... :) – freedomn-m Jan 29 at 16:34
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    +1 for the "Malicious Compliance". Careful, though. You still need to have your boss prioritize whatever task or request that comes in. – Arriel Jan 29 at 20:45
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    This is not an automation problem. It's a manager-employee problem that needs to be sorted out with an honest, sincere discussion. Sometimes doing exactly what the boss says is the wrong move in the long term. The people emailing you will quickly resent phony "got it" messages and that resentment will be directed towards you, not the boss. – teego1967 Jan 30 at 19:22
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What can I do?

First consider talking this with your boss.

Explain to them that this consumes a lot of your work time and you could be more productive on the rest of your tasks if this email reply were not mandatory. If your boss is reasonable and you present valid concerns and reasons for this (like the increased productiveness on other tasks) then perhaps they will consider it.

If this does not work, or the answer is still "do the replies", then the only option you have is to do as your boss says. Perhaps he/she is aware of the amount of time it requires, but still considers the email reply task very important, even if it means you going a little slower.

If you still really dislike doing this task, then consider if this job is something you want and can/are willing to do.

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It might be a little bit unusual for a boss to ask/demand a confirmation for each email you read. However I don't see why it's bothering you so much. If you already spent at least a minute reading an email what's the problem with spending an extra 5 seconds sending a response?

I think the actual problem you have is that you might get too many emails who are not relevant for you. Maybe it's better to talk about your boss about rampant abuse of the CC-functionality in your organization (a very common problem).

I strongly advise against making such auto-reply script. First of all, there is a big chance it will send a "I got it reply" to an important email you actually haven't read. Second defying the orders of your boss in such a deceiving way will likely not be received well, if you got found out (which I think you eventually will). It's better in this case just to "forget" to send confirmations to less important emails.

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  • It takes more than five seconds to respond, closer to 30, times 300 responses, he will literally be spending two and a half hours every day doing nothing but responding. – Old_Lamplighter Jan 29 at 15:09
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    @Old_Lamplighter even if an response would take 30 seconds and the OP would automate that away he/she still has 300 emails to read, which would take approximately 300 minutes/5 hours. So to me it seems clears that the best way to solve this problem is to reduce the number of emails he/she receives. Not to shave off a few seconds response time from every email. – thieupepijn Jan 29 at 15:50
  • @thieupepijn If it takes the OP one minute to read a typical email, then the OP needs some remedial teaching of reading skills. I process most emails (by opening them, reading the first couple of lines, deciding it is not worth reading any further, and deleting them) in less than 5 seconds. – alephzero Jan 29 at 16:09
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    @alephzero If it takes you less than a minute to read an email, I'm pretty sure it's going to take you less than 30 seconds to send a "got it" in acknowledgement, the point of the answer still stands. – gcali Jan 30 at 9:25
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I thought about making a script that randomly replies a response at a random time in some fixed interval so I wouldn’t have to write this and they don’t find out I’m just automating replies.

Instead of maliciously complying, ask yourself, is your boss crazy, or is he addressing the complaint of a colleague who's claiming that you're not reading his emails (within a reasonable timeframe)?

How do I reason here or provide an explanation?

First, you have to tell us.

Have you been ignoring the requests of that particular colleague? Is that coworker lying? Or possibly being unreasonable?

And if you really don't know what the grievance is, you really need to speak to that person and find out what it is.

What can I do?

Instead of fighting the decision, see if you can come up with an alternative solution that would be just as good to your colleague, and that both your colleague and your boss would be willing to sign off on.

I personally like Asana. It cuts down on the number of back and forth emails. If a task needs to be assigned to me, or if a task is changed, or if I need to approve something, or if the assigner wants to know if I saw it, or started working on it, or what else I'm working on, etc. Asana helps keep track of it all.

See https://youtu.be/iKsO9zx9n2Q?t=315

Another thing you could do is to ask your colleague to mark his emails to you with a particular abbreviation, to let you know he wants a quick acknowledgment of your receipt.

In the end, I think you'll find that the grievance probably goes deeper than just an email receipt. Maybe that colleague is feeling ignored, or disrespected. Whatever it is, you need to find out what it is and then decide whether you want to do something about it or not.

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I think you're making a bigger fuss than is needed here.

Depending on what job you got, it can really matter to the people sending you emails that they know that you received them and read them. Maybe your boss got complaints that they had no idea if their mails were actually being handled or not.

What apparently isn't being asked is that:

  • You read every mail as soon as it arrives; just that you acknowledge reading it when you do.
  • You immediately do whatever is being asked in the email, just that you acknowledge getting it.

So mute the notifications on your mailbox so you don't get distracted by the sound. Every hour or so, go through your inbox, and for each email do the following:

  • Read it.
  • Determine what kind of action needs to be taken and when.
  • Put it in the appropriate box.
  • Acknowledge reading it, using a keyboard shortcut as described by @Kaz.

Writing "got it" by hand 300 times a day as soon as you get an email is ridiculous. Going through your mailbox ~8 times per day and using some keyboard shortcuts to shovel away 300 emails is fine.

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  1. Change your signature to "Got it!!" Ctrl-R/Alt-S to comply in under one second. (Outlook)

  2. Ask your colleagues to tick the box "Request Read Receipt" on all the emails they send you (or in general). When you click on such an email, a dialog pops up first thing with "send receipt". Be prepared to show them how to filter these responses to the junkbox.

My answer is ridiculous. So are all the others, IMO. But, all the answers are less ridiculous than your boss, so I hope they help.

And, don't make a script to fake-comply with your boss. Lying has worse consequences than complying or refusing.

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Step 1: Mention to your boss that you receive a lot of emails every day and that this request is annoying and unnecessary. Also mention that the email writers can request a read receipt, which will serve the same purpose.

Step 2: If your boss doesn't back off, then CC him on all your "Got it" messages so he sees your email volume.

Step 3: If your boss tells you that receiving those emails is getting annoying, tell him that writing them is getting annoying.

Step 4: Make sure to not add additional overtime hours if this email reply causes you to lose productivity. Replying "Got it" to 300 emails per day is now part of your job description, it's not additional time, and if your productivity elsewhere suffers, then that's the company's problem not yours. If your boss brings up a productivity drop to you, ask him to factor in how many "Got it" emails he receives per day into his productivity metrics, because that's a large part of what your time is being spent on.

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Your boss wants a reply for every email. You can't do that since it affects your work.

I think the options you have are as follows:

  • Talk to your boss. It probably won't work since there will be a reason for your boss to make you do so.
  • Automate replies. Not a good idea since you may be sending the wrong reply.
  • Use a schedule. Configure your mail client so that is will check for new mails every hour or so. You can blame your email client or internet for the delay.
  • Delegate. Ask your boss for someone or find a junior without a lot of work, to do the mail check for you.
  • Timesheet. Allocate 10 minutes in your timesheet every time you check and reply the mail. It will show how much time you are spending on these unproductive tasks.
  • Chat application. Request your boss to use a chat application so that smaller conversations can be moved to it.

These are all assuming everyone in your company follows the same reply standards. If not, you can just call for equal treatment.

That's all I could think of right now. Take your pick ;)

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