Sent Box > Inbox


I’m sure we’ve all read a plethora of posts about how to better manage our email inboxes but I think that it’s the sent box that really is the key to productivity.

When we only spend time handling emails we receive, we end up managing someone else’s to-do list. What about that email you sent 2 days ago? Was that read by the person you sent it to? Did they read it briefly when they were getting on the subway only to forget about it when their inbox was filled up the next morning?

The greatest misconception in communication is the illusion that it took place. – George Bernard Shaw

Communication is only clear communication when:

  • A message was sent
  • There was an acknowledgement of receipt of that message (No, a “read receipt” of an email in Outlook doesn’t count)
  • There was an understanding of the received message that matches the intent the sender was hoping for

Just because we sent someone an email doesn’t mean that:

  • it was read
  • it was deemed important
  • it made anyone’s to-do list

We’re not that important. Remember that. Repeat that.

We sometimes think that if someone didn’t reply to our email it is because they decided, after hours of contemplation, to print our email for all to see, set fire to our pathetic request and then deviously not email us back.

Relax, it’s never like that.

Following up with someone doesn’t mean you’re annoying. It means you’re diligent.

People respect diligence and people don’t like to be notified that they didn’t do something, so they will do everything in their power to remedy the situation. Chances are, they just forgot. Don’t let 2 weeks go by because of pride. 72 – 96 business hours is a completely reasonable length of time to follow up with someone about an email you sent.

The email you sent and need a reply to is YOUR to-do, it’s your responsibility, not the person you sent it to. That’s how you have to treat it. Treat that email like it was your child whom you let sleep at a friend’s house. Make sure it comes back to you.

Think of it this way, if someone sent you an email and you simply forgot about it, are you annoyed if they follow up with you? Of course not! Don’t let your goals be delayed because you assume that when someone has the time, he will reply to you immediately.He doesn’t care about your email like you do. He’s thinking about his family, his job, his relationship, his projects, his vacation, his life, his fantasy football team to remember your email. Make him remember if you have to. Be nice about it. Let him know that you are sure he’s busy but you wanted to follow up and make sure he saw your email.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

I use: but you can also try:

What do you use to remember to follow up with people?

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