A few years ago, I would get so peeved when someone wouldn’t respond to my email. But today, I totally get it. Not all emails deserve a response. If the party you’re messaging is an important person, there’s just no way to expect a reply. Today… I’m that important person. Feels weird to say. But no, I don’t respond to all emails. Here’s why. And here’s what else you need to keep in mind if you want to manage emails like a true professional…

I don’t respond to all emails because it just doesn’t make any sense. Here are some of the emails I don’t respond to:

  • Emails where the person on the other end clearly has yet to sort themselves out – let alone offer you. This is mostly semi-spam people send me from finding me via the various mediate outlets which I’m a contributor.
  • Unintelligent, insulting emails. If you have a point, bring it on but I need to respect you before I can be insulted.
  • Emails pitching ideas I simply don’t support

This list could go on but I suppose those are the main three categories. I invite you to hold the same standards.

Set Times for Email

I learned this from Tim Ferriss and his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Check emails rarely. I think the average American worker checks their email about 50 times per day. That’s crazy. I check my email usually twice per day – unless there’s something really important that we’re working on. Doing this means I can chunk up my time. That’s essential for concentration. Email when it’s time for email. Write when it’s time to write, etc. It’s necessary for concentration.

Avoid Creating a Dialogue

When an email comes in, don’t feel the need to respond to it right away. I often use the ‘mark as unread’ feature in Gmail. I do this because if you respond to an email the second it comes in, the other person often treats it as a dialogue. They respond back over and over again with one-sentence responses. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Fewer, more information-packed emails are best.

Understand That Most Problems Go Away on Their Own

Have you ever been on call waiting and hangup because you’ve found the answer to your own question. Yup. See, most people can solve their own problems. We’re quite fantastic at doing that actually. So if people know you won’t respond to emails quickly, they will solve the problem on their own. With more personal satisfaction and maybe even better than you could answer it yourself. Plus, if you’re a business owner, you want to surround yourself with people who are problem-solvers.

Let People Know How to Reach You in an Emergency

Emergencies happen. Of course they rarely happen in a well-structured business but I suppose it is possible. In case of emergencies, let people know your cell phone number or an emergency email account that will ping your phone when a message arrives. This way if there are no pings, there are no problems. ONLY give out this information to people who may have emergencies which need your help. Do not place your emergency contact information in your signature.

How Your Day Will Change

After your implement the above, you’ll realize you’re more productive. You will have long, interrupted streams of work time. It’s glorious. You can concentrate on solving major problems instead of just treating water all day. This time will earn you oodles of cash and leave you incredibly fulfilled. Focus on what matters.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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