Do you ever get frustrated when someone does not reply to your messages within 24 hours? Isn’t it fun to work with people who reply only after you’ve politely (but persistently) badgered them a few times?
As I used to be one of these overloaded individuals, I can tell you that they only reply to two types of people: those whose cooperation they need in order to get their own job done, and those who badger them persistently enough to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassingly inefficient.
As I said, I used to be one of these people. I now consistently reply to almost all of my email within 24 hours. So how do I maintain my responsiveness?
In my old way of doing things, if I needed to reply to a message, it was extremely tempting to leave it in the inbox as a reminder to reply. Creating an entry on my task list saying “Reply to such-and-such message” seemed a bit ridiculous to me, so I used to let these messages loiter around in my inbox until I got around to answering them. (Or until they got tired of waiting and disappeared.)
You can guess that my inbox was clogged up with messages that I’d already read. I found that it was easy for such messages to get buried and forgotten, and at best they wasted my time when I re-read and re-re-read them as I scanned my inbox.
I am now disciplined enough to keep my inbox free of clutter, so what do I do with the messages that I need to reply to?
This 2-step solution guarantees that I don’t forget to reply:
- Need to reply but don’t have time right now? Drag the message into a special folder, entitled “Reply”, that holds all the messages that need replying to.
- Schedule a couple of times a day, every day, in which to crank though the Reply folder, during which you shoot off the necessary answers and file the messages elsewhere.
If you don’t have time to formulate a reply to a complex or time-consuming issue, use this method to keep the other side’s faith until you get the chance to reply.
Since I started using this strategy, replying within 24 hours is no longer stressful – it’s just part of my regular routine.
Related Article: How to keep track of overdue replies that other people owe you