Stop Saying You'll Write Back Later. Do It Now.

If you’re like me, you either answer an e-mail within three minutes or it takes you three weeks. Sometimes this is harmless, but I’ve realized it’s actually a bad habit, and it’s one that I’m really trying to break. When I respond within three minutes it’s great, but when I wait and wait and keep pushing off a response, things get lost in the shuffle. In some cases, I’ll get so many e-mails on top of the other one that I just forget to respond entirely. There are many reasons why I don’t respond right away. They include:

  • I get sidetracked
  • I have no idea what to say
  • I write my response in my head, but never actually send it
  • I see the e-mail but don’t actually read it, thus causing me to forget to respond

While I’ve never missed a deadline or anything due to a slow response, it does become uncomfortable. You can’t just pop into someone’s inbox after a month like, “Whoops! Sorry!”

In some instances, the lack of response is truly because the e-mail got sent to spam or a legitimate mix-up happened. But when it’s just your forgetfulness, it’s embarrassing.

Also, I know that when I put off responding to an e-mail or Facebook message, it weighs on my mind and starts to slowly and quietly cause stress. My new goal is to tackle an e-mail or a message as soon as possible. If I can’t get to it right away, it’s going directly on my “to do” list just like any other task I have to tackle. No more forgetting and finding it when I’m cleaning out junk mail months later. Whenever I can respond right away, I need to do it. I’m hoping that this small action will help to clear my mind and make sure that all my messages are handled on time, even if I don’t know what to say right away or have to check on something before I can write back.

To help get my inbox under control, I’m going to get this app called Mailbox. Apparently there are many other disorganized e-mailers like me, because there’s a significant waiting list. A friend already has this app though, and swears by its ability to make any inbox manageable.

It’s hard to promise to avoid e-mail procrastination entirely, because we are bombarded with so many forms of correspondence at any given time. We’re working on Gchats, texts, Facebook messages, and tweets. But following up right away can help to cause the message from slipping your mind, thus preventing you from looking slightly scatterbrained.

Do you have an issue with responding to your e-mails and messages right away too?

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