Inbox zero is no longer a goal, it's a mirage. Instead, we have email guilt - otherwise known as the condition of having so much email you couldn't possibly respond to it all, but you still feel like you should. Or should you? That's the question we are posing here today: "Should you respond to every email?"
"No, you shouldn't. But many people do, because there doesn't seem to be a great alternative. It's asymmetrical, and productivity loses to politeness."
"No, but I still try. I don't respond to emails with "FYI" in the subject line, unless I have something valuable to add. But the majority of other emails from people - quick questions, unsolicited inquiries, or articles from friends - deserve a response. I try to be quick, replying with 3-5 words when possible. My thinking: email may drive us crazy, but it is still a form of communication with people, and communication helps build relationships."
"Emails are like rabbits, they reproduce at an exorbitant rate. The more you send, the more you get. So many people complain about all the emails they get, my question is, how many emails do you send?Sending one email to 5 people could produce 5 emails back. Overwhelmed by all the emails I would get, I decided to stop sending as many. Now, when I have something to ask or tell someone, I pick up the phone and call them. Not only has it significantly reduced the number of emails I get, but it actually saves me time also. A five minute call replaces the time it takes to read and reply to the original email and read and reply to their reply… or replies. And I no longer spend 20+ minutes crafting the perfect email - no need to.
The number of emails I get has dropped so dramatically, in fact, that I no longer feel I need to sleep next to my phone or check my emails when I wake up in the morning - something I used to do even before I brushed my teeth or showered. We don't need to figure out a strategy on how to deal with all our emails if we are able to significantly reduce the number that come in in the first place… and the only way to do that is to start using the phone again."
What Do You Think?
What's your take? Should you respond to every email?
More about Jocelyn K. Glei
A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with how to make great creative work in the Age of Distraction. Her latest book is Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done. Her previous works include the 99U’s own bestselling book series: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.
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