. How Do I Handle the Endless Emails?

Question:  I try not to reply to my personal emails too soon or others will just keep emailing me daily. Then I will need to respond again. Do you see the endless cycle?  This “behindness” is stressful to say the least. I don’t want to offend others, but I just get so behind!  Candice A.

My dear friends, this email made me realize there are some helpers which have worked for me.


1)  When I read an email, I try to prepare a response right away.  This saves me having to read an email a second time before responding.  However, (and I am really revealing a lot about myself here), if I don’t want the turn around time to be too soon, I will save this response email in a “drafts” folder.  At the beginning of each week, I send off these emails which creates pacing from my end.

I might get a second response right away (and often within the hour) to which I will reply, but again I put my response in the “drafts” folder to be mailed at the beginning of the next week.  This has substantially slowed down my immediate responders and given me more time to focus on other priority projects.


2)  I try to keep all my own emails short and to the point.  Because I tend to lose interest reading an overly long email, I try to be brief at my end, too.


3)  If I need a question answered, I use a “*” at the beginning of the sentence and put the sentence as the beginning of the paragraph.  This has significantly increased responses to my questions and reduced the number of times I have to repeat myself.  For instance:


*Will you be bringing the crib when you come to visit?


4)  In rare and difficult cases, I put emails needing a response but which I am not ready to deal with in a separate “someday” folder to address sometime later, especially if a response can wait.  I do this because I believe I must take control of my time in order to use it as wisely as possible.  Sometimes these emails wait for days, sometimes more than a month.  Having them in a special folder keeps them close without keeping them in my face.

I love email.  I use it much more often than the phone and believe that as we are consistently kind, use it with restraint and politely “pace” our own responses, we can correspond with others and still maintain a sense of sanity.  Emails are not meant to be a pressure in our lives, they are met to be a pleasure.  Happy emailing!

Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.

Photo from sxc.hu, used with permission.


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