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Don’t respond to emails (right away)

5 July, 2007 (15:01) | Life | By: Nick Dalton

Most email programs have this “helpful” feature that notifies you each time a new email arrives. It can be a sound effect, or a small window that flashes the name of the sender and the subject in the corner of your screen. Turn that “feature” off now. Stop reading this article and turn that feature off now.


Welcome back. You have just taken an important step on the path to recovery. This is the Interruption Age, and contrary to most other eras, now it’s the person with the least interruptions who wins.


Besides increased efficiency (see my article on Batch Mode), not responding to emails right away has several beneficial side effects:


  1. In many cases the sender and other recipients will solve the problem without your involvement. The upside is that you don’t have to waste your attention on the problem and your colleagues will learn to solve problems by themselves.

  2. If the problem is not already resolved, it should at least be more clearly formulated and defined by the time you get involved. It may take some time for this “training” to sink in, but if your colleagues only receive email responses from you twice a day, they better put some serious thought into the email before they hit the send button. Otherwise it will take a week of going back and forth before they have their answer.



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