Manage Your Email

The Business  Writing Center

If you don't manage your email, your email will manage you.

Here's how to manage your email.

This is Derek, answering emails from Jean, the company CFO, and a vendor. He decides which to answer first.

"I've got to answer the CFO." Derek answers him in one hour.

He thinks, "Jean will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow." Tomorrow he's too busy. He doesn't get to her email

for two days.

Derek thinks, "I'll put the vendor in my 'to do' box." Derek doesn't get to it for a week. He lets it get so old he has to respond, and the vendor's calling.

Derek is allowing his email to manage him. Each person has a delay time. He lets that person's email age until the delay time pressures him into responding.

Derek feels pressure because his in-box has old emails nagging at him to answer, and he rereads the old emails without responding, so he's wasting time.

He has increased the number of emails he receives when people ask him why he hasn't responded. His in-box looks fuller and he's frustrated by it.

Jean and the vendor can't get their work done because Derek is not responding. He's deciding when they can finish their tasks. They feel he's not responsive or doesn't view them as being important. That creates stress. .

By living on the edge of a crisis waiting for the pressure of aged emails to force him to respond, he is frustrated and his coworkers are frustrated.

Derek is perpetuating a culture in which people delay responding to emails until they've aged to a certain time set for each reader. Derek will experience the same treatment from others.

Derek is contributing to perpetuating a culture in which people delay responding to emails. He will experience the same treatment from others.

All business people should respond to emails within a few hours, if only to say I'll respond more fully tomorrow.

Derek is contributing to perpetuating a culture in which people delay responding to emails. He will experience the same treatment from others.

Every email must receive a response. There must be no dead-letter file where email goes to die.

Derek is contributing to perpetuating a culture in which people delay responding to emails. He will experience the same treatment from others.

Look at emails only three or four times a day. Don't interrupt your work by stopping  to read email at every moment of the day.

Derek is contributing to perpetuating a culture in which people delay responding to emails. He will experience the same treatment from others.

If something is important, pick up the phone and talk to the person, if only to give a heads-up that an urgent email is coming.

Derek will be happier if he follows these guidelines, and his coworkers will view him as conscientous and efficient.

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