Why do we believe that it is okay to expect a quick response from an email or direct message?
You know the score. A client emails you and then half an hour later they are on the phone or messaging you on WhatsApp to see if you got it.
It never used to be like this
Back in the old days we used to manage perfectly with post. You remember, someone types or writes on a piece of paper folds it up into an envelope and licks a stamp for the top corner and then puts the letter in a postbox.
A week or two later you have an answer.
My first house purchase in 1989 only took four weeks. We didn't have widespread fax machines or computers and the internet was in it's infancy. How long does the house buying process take today?
If we respond to our emails in a fashion like we did with 'snail mail' then we'd have more realistic expectations. We'd not have people chasing us and we'd definitely not feel overwhelmed like many people feel today.
I'm sat here with 17 unread emails in my inbox, many of which I'll just batch delete, some of which will need an answer, but there has to be a better way.
I've now added an Out Of Office auto responder to my inbox.
Now I'll only go into my emails after lunch and deal with them then. I'll do the same the next day too. In time people will get the message and I'll be less stressed with my inbox and I'll be delivering a better service to my clients and prospects.
If people do not understand and get a little upset, then do I really want to work with them? Do I want to help someone who leaves something to the last minute or doesn't respect my boundaries?
It's my own fault that I get emails and respond immediately. I'm giving out the message that I am just sat here waiting for your email. This has to change otherwise I'll feel that I cannot take any time off or that I am giving a poor service.
If you are a lovely person you'll totally understand and probably send me a message saying something along the lines of "Well done you". Let's do this together and change the way that we work. After all, if people know the score they'll be happier working with you.
Get in touch if you have any other ideas of how we can work better. Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org but rest assured I'll not respond immediately.