A Public Confession…about Email

Here’s a confession…a very public confession. 

I am not great in keeping up with emails/facebook/twitter messages!

And, in that order!

There, I said it! Wow, that was tough. It’s tough because it’s embarrassing!

Now, I don’t get ridiculous amounts of email/messages. Maybe a few hundred a day. But, for some reason, I’m not great in returning all of them in a timely and professional manner. Time after time, I find myself saying “I’m sorry for the extreme tardiness of this reply”! If I’ve done that to you, I’m sorry.

My internal goal is to return all emails/messages within 48 hours. That just doesn’t happen. I read them all. I process them all. I think through how I need to reply, but it always don’t happen right away. Now, I’m not talking about weeks, I return every email/message that’s sent to me. But, I need to get much quicker.

I need an immediate course correction. 

Here’s are my course corrections…

1. I’ve been answering all emails in real time. When I hear the little ‘ping’ I look at the email and read it. Even if I’m in the middle of a project! I’m going to turn that ping off and schedule a few times during the day to specifically check email.

2. I will send some type of reply immediately. Even if it’s…”I’m not sure” or “Let me think about it” and I will get back to you “by”. I’ve learned this from my mentor Kevin Winningham. His emails are incredible! Clear, direct, to the point…but with personality and oozing with care!

Here’s a great post from Michael Hyatt about how to keep up with email.

3. I will keep my emails short. I use a lot of words! I’m trying to keep my emails shorter, but still have personality. My personal pet peeve is people whose emails are short, curt and void of any relational equity. At least say hi!

Here’s a great post from Michael Hyatt about email etiquette.

4. I am going to try to recruit a virtual assistant. Now, I’m not a big deal…farthest thing from it. But, I do spend a lot of time organzing my address book, keeping up with data management of Schools/Churches/Donors. I’ve read Michael Hyatt’s posts on his virtual assistant and I’ve exchanged emails with her and I’m sold. Now, I can’t afford to pay, so I’m going to try to recruit a volunteer to help me.

If you’re interested, check out more information here and email me at jason@livenowleadership.com.

5. Lastly, I’m always going to respond. I get a of emails from people asking for stuff and honestly I send a lot of emails asking people for stuff. I email people and ask them to consider bringing me in to speak for their School/Church/Company, I ask people to give money to Live Now and I ask people for prayer.

I hardly ever get responses. Even from people I know. I’ve just made an internal commitment to always respond. I want to help as many people as I can or see if I can connect them with somebody that can.

What am I missing? What else do I need to do? What do you do?

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One comment

  1. There really isn’t a completely perfect system that always works for keeping up with email messages, but I think you’re on the right track. The only thing I can think of is if you set up an auto responder, your email software or account could automatically send out a message such as, “Thank you for your message, I will try to get back with you during the next 24 hours.” I know this seems formal for a one-man operation, but this is actually a standard that we follow for correspondence with the public, and we’re a nonprofit.

    I’ve read that for Facebook and Twitter, you should be ready to devote some time every day. The tendency for Facebook, especially, is to repost all of the good stuff right away. I think that it might be good to “store up” anything interesting you find on Facebook, and then post one or two items per day. That way, you always have a backlog of things to share, so you don’t find yourself scrambling. This only works for “evergreen” content, or content that isn’t time sensitive.

    For both Facebook and Twitter, I’d recommend recruiting evangelists who are willing to monitor these social media networks and post on your behalf. They could respond to messages or questions, and moderate the “wall” or Twitter Stream. I”ve had some excellent luck using a tool like CoTweet, which allows you to give access for your Twitter account to multiple people. It was free the last I used it, but that may have changed.

    There is actually a product which is provided by Salesforce which allows you to combine your Twitter, Facebook, and email accounts into one place, so that you are responding to everything from one spot. If you’re interested, I can try to find the name. They offer one agent for free, but beyond that there is a cost.

    Finally, I think that it pays to try to make your communication as transparent as possible (or practical). When readers post a suggestion on your blog or Facebook page, for example, one of your volunteers could respond or maybe another reader will post a reply. Or, maybe a second reader will see that the first reader shared an idea that’s similar, and just post a response underneath it. Once this begins to happen, you will have begun to crowdsource your ideas for your business.

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