A lot of us keep our inbox open all the time, like we need to know the moment something comes in. Many of us even open every email as soon as it arrives. Some of us jump to reply.
You know you don’t have to, right?
I doubt anyone who sends an email expects an immediate response. If it’s urgent, they’ll probably call — well, nothing is urgent anyway, but that story has already been told. Here’s how I handle email:
It’s off while I’m writing / planning / doing immersive work. I also don’t have notifications on my phone. We don’t use Google Hangouts, so no reason to be online.
I check email at specific intervals each day. Now, because I have a team and do little writing myself, I check 4-5 times a day. Earlier it was only once or twice.
I try to respond to all emails within 24 hours. And I endeavour to clear out all email before finishing the day. If I need more time, I reply saying, “I’ve seen this, I’ll get back to it next week” and move it to my project management system.
Those who need a response for their email within the day typically text me. Even that, I handle the same way I do email, unless I really like that person.
Most of my customers know the rhythm, so when they email me, they know when I might respond. But then, if you typically don’t reply to emails, people will stop using that as a medium and call you instead. So, there’s that.
Emails of The Whole Works, though, still haven’t fallen into that rhythm. I’ve unread emails from over 3 days ago. I generally clear those off over the weekend or on Mondays.
In the long run, everyone gets used to it.