Do you respond to every e-mail?
If e-mail was an art (which it is) some people would be Michelangelo and others would be minimalists. Inbox zero has become a fleeting dream and I have often characterized e-mail as playing a game of whack-a-mole . As far as replying; I’d say that sometimes it is imperative, occasionally you should (even just to be courteous) and many times it is just optional. The ‘optional reply’ e-mails are usually informational ones which do not require any information or action from you. Also under the “optional” category would be cookie cutter solicitations (aka spam in disguise).
Let’s hear what 21st century gurus have to say:
Seth Godin /// Author, Blogger, Marketing Guru
“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.”
Scott Belsky /// CEO, Behance
“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.”
Simon Sinek /// Leadership Expert & Author, “Start With Why”
“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.”