I knew an executive who was so addicted to his email that he would respond almost immediately to his incoming messages. He thought he was doing a good thing by being available practically any time. Unfortunately, he created a culture where his direct reports felt he wanted them to respond to his emails, whether 11 am or 11 pm.
Even though I checked my email in the evening, I wouldn’t hit “send” right away unless the matter was urgent. I didn’t want to send the message that my team members were expecting to be online 24x7x365. So I would schedule my emails to go out first thing in the morning. That’s a great feature of most email programs. You can write them now and pick a time to send them.
There are other good reasons for scheduling your emails to go out later.
If you change your mind about your response, you still have time to change it before it is sent.
Because so many people are now working from home, you have the flexibility of working at any time. No one needs to know that you were working in the wee hours while watching baseball in the afternoon.
Sometimes problems resolve themselves before my email is sent. I’ve received emails in the evening when someone alerts me to a problem. Sometimes the issue is resolved before my response is sent, and I can delete it and no longer worry about the concern.
I’d you are going to adopt this approach, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Don’t schedule your emails to go out at the same time each day, or your secret will be gone. Google Mail’s delayed email widget suggests 1 pm. Change it. Randomize it.
- If the problem is resolved or change your mind, make sure you don’t forget to unschedule your email. You will look foolish, or your email will be odd if you don’t.
- Watch your language. If you write “tomorrow” in an email at 7 pm, but it doesn’t go out until 7 am, “tomorrow “will be “today.”
A recent study showed that workers spend more than 25% of their workday replying to/browsing through/writing emails. Using my suggestions, you can spread the task out to times that work for you.