I remember a time where I took personal offense to unanswered emails. I wondered if I was being rudely ignored, or if I was being a nagging pest, and it chewed away at far too much of my mental energy. One time my boss commented that they ignored any solicitation emails, and I remember thinking 'that is so rude... how hard is it to just say 'no thank you?'
.... fast forward and chuckle at 22-year old Sarah. Because 32-year old has entire days to play catchup with unanswered emails. Many of which are responses to things I have asked for. And it's not because I'm rude, or because I wish people would leave me alone. It's because there are only 24 hours in a day, and I cannot spend 9 of them typing on my computer.
I do still respond to every email that I get. Sometimes it takes a while. And I do still believe in responding to solicitations, though they are a little less warm than they used to be and tend to say 'Learn to say hello, you salesy leech' in between the lines.
Passing along a few email tips I've picked up over the years.
If you have sent an email, don't take it personally if you don't hear back. Follow up a couple times before you let it lie. I like to send three follow ups and with the third I say something like 'I've included my contact information if you would like to pick this up in a future conversation.' I generally appreciate when someone follows up, especially if it's in response to something I have asked them for.
Fight the urge to ping-pong your emails. Pick a couple times of day to check in, rather than stopping mid-task at every incoming notification. I know an email 'will only take a second', but those seconds add up. I like to check my email in the morning (after I've had some coffee and alone time), after lunch, and before I check out for the night.
Create email boundaries. I let my clients know that they can expect to hear from me within 48 hours, and to call me if anything is truly urgent. I am very protective over my time, so I have created a brand that is built on accuracy over urgency. What are your boundaries? Do you have specific email days? Times you need to focus on family or other activities? Figure out what works for you, and communicate that.
Get organized. Part of the overwhelm of email is having 5 million messages in our inbox. Create a structure for subject lines and containing correspondence into one findable thread. Then try creating folders where you can categorize and move emails out of the way. You can either opt to set up rules and have everything automatically go to specific folders (great option if that works for you), or I like to move emails I've already addressed into folders, and just focus on my inbox. Sort of a to-do and already done system.
The real trick is to figure out what works for you. Once you can evaluate what you need, you can create a system that works for you.
P.S. Just an opinion, but cold solicitations are rarely warmly received. Save your time and theirs by having a strategy in place and talking to the people who want to talk to you. Doubly encouraged for anyone who starts an email with 'Hey Girl! I wanted to invite you to join a life-changing business pyramid scheme!' You're better than that, Karen.