Are you a Professional Email Answerer?

Article by Kristine CareyAs a business owner, there are a lot of things vying for your attention. Some days it’s easy to see what to do next; other days you’re lucky if you can even figure out where to start. Call clients back, do proactive marketing, have lunch or coffee with referral partners, follow up on leads from that networking event -– these are just some of the things on your to-do list.

EmailHowever, what do you often end up spending your time on? I mean, if we’re really telling the truth? Email. Answering email, organizing email, scanning to see what new emails have come in since the last time you checked, making cute folders to keep your email neat and tidy…

Recently I listened to a talk entitled “Make Good Art” by Neil Gaiman (a science fiction and fantasy writer), and discovered he knows this self-employment trap all too well. Neil said, “There was a day when I looked up and realized that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby.”

That’s when it occurred to me that Neil and I had something in common, as I have been guilty of the same thing. It was as if Neil Gaiman and I were the same person!

He goes on to say: “I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.”

What a revelation –- I could answer fewer emails. Or let email take up less space in my brain. Or corral it into certain times and parts of my day. Or hire someone to do it for me -– wow!

Email is a great invention of our modern age, allowing us to communicate in a way we never could before. In my business, though, and yours too, I suspect, it can become something more than just a communication medium. It’s often more like an evil task master, and that’s no fun.

If you can relate to what I’m saying, ask yourself what you’d like to do about the relationship between you and your email. There is no shortage of email advice out there, and you may benefit from reading up on it. The fastest path to email relief, however, may be to gently redefine your role as Ruler of Your Business Kingdom and start answering fewer emails. Perhaps, like Neil and me, you will find you’re making good business much more.

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Reader Comments

My adult children hardly ever answer emails but they answer (and write) text messages.

Maybe the solution is to answer all emails in 140 characters or less.


Diana Schneidman, author, Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less

Love it Diana! Meet them where they’re at 🙂