No, not the kind where you just email someone over and over and over until you get a response. I can’t recommend against that strongly enough.
I mean forcing yourself to answer an email no matter how much work it is.
That’s the thing with emails, it’s often not just typing out a response and hitting send. That’s hard enough, some days. An email might be a bunch of work you need to do first, then a response.
For example, I might need to open up a calendar and do a little scheduling first, so the response email can include a proposed date and time for a thing. But before I do that I need to Slack some people to see if that date and time works for them before I propose it. And along with this calendaring, there needs to be a document. I need to create that document first and make sure it’s shared correctly and has all the right language and numbers in it.
I should probably make a template for that document too, because this isn’t the last time it’s going to happen and I want to make sure I do it right this time and all future times. I should probably update some old documents with this more well-considered language also.
And ultimately what I’m proposing in this email I need to write requires some more global business consideration on my part. What is it I’m doing here? Am I just trying to shoo this email away? Or is this an opportunity to grow something I’m trying to grow? Should I take this email as an opportunity to see if they’ll bite on something big and new?
I know that got a little abstract there, but it’s all related to an email inbox. I might have an email sitting there that represents much more than an unread email. It’s sitting there because there is a bunch of work to do first, and maybe even strategizing before that work begins.
Those emails can pile up. What if the email on top of that is entirely different, but also represents a bunch of work and strategy. Stress can start to settle in here.
I often find myself cleaning out emails around these in order to feel good about the inbox numbers in general, but I’m just skirting the real work that needs to be done.
So sometimes I’ll go into brute force mode. I’ll tell myself: I’m going to answer this email at the bottom of this inbox no matter what. I’ll do whatever work I need to do to get it done. My only job is to handle this one email well.
Ultimately, it won’t bring that inbox number down very far when you’re done right away, but if you’re anything like me, the burden it lifts is so great, you’ll find yourself trucking through other emails with renewed vigor and that really will make a difference.