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Why You Should Ignore Urgent Email


Robby

What? Ignore? Yup, that’s right. An urgent email is not really urgent. It’s just a way for the sender to document what they want without having to deal with your feedback immediately.

My contention that urgent email is not urgent goes back to the old days of mail. Remember mail? The stuff that the US Postal Service delivered? Email written in a forceful tone or with the little “important” flag clicked is kind of like when you get a letter in the mail marked URGENT! ACT NOW!

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Of course, these letters aren’t really urgent (as this hilarious post shows.) If it was, they would have called you on the phone instead of a couple of days to send something to you!

That’s the problem with email marked as “urgent.” It’s almost certainly FALSE urgency. So what you should do when you get it is to ignore it for a while. A few hours at least, and if possible to the next business day.

Here’s what will happen: someone will call you on the phone.

Sender: “Hello R., I am calling to see if you got my email. It’s really imporant.”

Receiver: “You sent some mail? When did you send it?”

Sender: “About twenty minutes ago. I really need an answer which is why I am calling.”

Receiver: “Oh, twenty minutes ago. You know, I was doing some other work just now. I had no idea you might be sending an urgent email.”

Sender: “Well, did you get it? Can you give me an answer?”

Receiver: “I can go look and then call you back if it didn’t come through. But since this is urgent and since we are on the phone, we don’t we just talk about it right now? In fact, I hope you’ll feel comfortable just calling in the future if something urgent comes up. That way I don’t have to feel bad about not knowing an urgent email is on its way.”

Do not send “urgent” email. And when one comes, ignore it for a while.

Email is great for slow, steady, thoughtful coordination. It’s terrible for putting out fires and dealing with fast-paced needs.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, September 18 2012 » Personal Organization, Self Development, Technology Tips, Time Management

One Response

  1. Laura Watson May 23 2014 @ 11:30 am

    Hi Robby, I really appreciate your post. I know today email spam has become a major problem for people. And due the continuous increase in email spam, some legitimate email marketers are also getting a bad response from their recipients.

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