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Email tip: Reply to all email messages within 24 hours


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?

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, & those who badger them persistently enough to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassingly inefficient.

Now consistently reply to almost all of your emails within 24 hours. So how do you maintain responsiveness?

In old way of doing things, to reply to a message, it was extremely tempting to leave it in the inbox as a reminder to reply. Creating an entry on task list saying "Reply to such-and-such message" seemed a bit ridiculous, to let these messages loiter around in inbox until you got around to answering them. (Or until they got tired of waiting & disappeared.)

You know that your inbox used to clogged up with messages that you already read. It was easy for such messages to get buried & forgotten, and at best they wasted time when you re-read & re-re-read them while scanning your inbox.

Now get disciplined enough to keep inbox free of clutter, so what do I do with the messages that I need to reply to?

This 2-step solution guarantees that you 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 & file the messages elsewhere. If you don't have time to formulate a reply to a complex or time-consuming issue, use this method. [Hi — I'm very interested in your product/message […] but right now I'm swamped. I may not get around to getting back to you until this weekend.]

Since you start using this strategy, replying within 24 hours will no longer be stressful – it will be just part of regular routine.

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