How to set up Out of Office in Google Calendar and Gmail

How to set up Out of Office in Google Calendar and Gmail
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Heading out of office? Before you whisk off for some rest and relaxation — you deserve it! — there are a few things to set up in Google Calendar and Gmail for best work practices, using our good pal: automation.

Read on to learn:

  • How to add out-of-office time to Google Calendar
  • How to set up an auto-response in your Gmail account (plus a fill-in-the-blank out-of-office message if you’re not sure what to write!)
  • The simplest way to sync an out-of-office event to your shared team calendar and Slack status

Curious about creating more time in your workday? Clockwise optimizes your schedule to create a smarter calendar. You can learn more here. If you’d like to learn how to implement a time management toolkit for your team, we also offer solutions for teams.

How to use the out-of-office feature in Google Calendar

When you add OOO (out-of-office) as a calendar event in Google Calendar, your calendar will automatically decline invitations for events that overlap with it. That way, you protect your out-of-office time with little effort on your end. Let yourself truly unplug, knowing that you won’t need to constantly monitor and RSVP to incoming meeting requests.

Here’s how to do it, whether you’re using your computer or mobile device (Android, iPhone, and iPad users — we’ve also got you covered).

Note: Out-of-office scheduling is only available for Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) accounts through work or school — not personal Google accounts.

On a computer

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  • Tip: Chrome users can easily access all Google Apps on the new window and new tab page.
  1. On the calendar, click on the first day you’ll be out of office.
  2. Click Out of office.
  3. Enter the dates for your event. You can also enter a specific time.
  4. If you want this out-of-office event to repeat, click the drop-down menu next to Does not repeat and choose a frequency.
  5. You can also change your decline settings and edit your decline message.
  6. Click Save.

On a mobile device (Android & iOS)

  1. Open the Google Calendar app.
  2. Tap the + icon at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Tap Out of office.
  4. Enter the dates for your event. You can also enter a specific time.
  5. If you want this out-of-office event to repeat, tap the drop-down menu next to Does not repeat and choose a frequency.
  6. You can also change your decline settings and edit your decline message.
  7. Tap Save.

How to set up auto-reply in Gmail when you’re out of office

When you know you’re going to be unavailable for an extended period of time, remember to set up your email account with an auto-response (sometimes called a vacation response). In this section, we’ll show you how to do it with your Gmail account. (If you use another email service, don’t worry — most email providers offer an autoresponder feature!)

Important things to know about Gmail vacation replies:

  • Your auto-response reply lasts from 12:00 AM on the first day to 11:59 PM on the last day — unless you turn it off before then.
  • Messages that end up in your spam folder won’t receive your auto-response. The same applies for messages you receive as part of a mailing list.
  • If you have an organizational Google Workspace account, you can decide if you only want people in your organization to see your auto-response.
  • If the same person contacts you more than once, they’ll likely only receive your auto-response after the first time they email you. There are a few exceptions, including:
  • If they contact you again four days after sending you the first email and you’re still out of office
  • If you edit your out-of-office message and the person contacts you again

On a computer

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Open your settings by clicking the gear icon at the top right.
  3. Click See all settings.
  4. Scroll down until you see the Vacation responder section.
  5. Select Vacation responder on.
  6. Enter the date range, subject line, and message.
  7. Under your message, check the box if you only want your contacts to see your vacation reply.
  8. Click Save Changes.

On a mobile device (Android & iOS)

  1. Open the Gmail app.
  • Note for iOS users: This step won’t work on the Mail app that comes pre-installed on Apple devices!
  1. Tap the menu icon in the top-left.
  2. Scroll to the bottom, then select Settings.
  3. Tap the account you want the automatic reply to come from.
  4. Tap Vacation responder.
  5. Use the toggle switch to enable Vacation Responder.
  6. Enter the date range, subject line, and message.
  7. Tap Save (iOS), or Done (Android).

Example out-of-office message

You can easily find templates all over the web if you’re unsure of what to write in your auto-response. Here’s a friendly, yet professional, complete and concise example (feel free to swipe!). Of course, tweak it to your own preferences.

Hello!

Thank you for your message. I’ll be out of office from [start date] to [end date] and will get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, existing clients can reach out to [name] at [email address] for assistance. Looking to book a meeting? You can schedule a call with me directly at [insert booking link].

Thank you!

[Your name]

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How Clockwise simplifies going out of office

Tired of handling the logistics of going out of office? Clockwise helps by automatically syncing out-of-office events to a shared team calendar, keeping everyone on the same page. Clockwise also integrates with Slack to send daily updates to a channel of your choosing that lets you know who’s working from home and who’s out of office. Plus, Clockwise Links automatically factors in your out-of-office and holiday schedules so you can avoid unnecessary back-and-forth when booking meetings.

Interested in implementing a Smarter Schedule for your workday?

  • Clockwise – Get started using Clockwise with Focus Time, Flexible Meetings, Scheduling Links, and Powerful Integrations here.
  • Smart Calendar for Teams – Teams on a paid plan see 44% more Focus Time created on average. Watch a demo of our Shared Calendar App or contact us for a walkthrough.

Read next: How to organize your Gmail inbox

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at WildHeartedWords.com.

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