I’ve never agreed with the act of procrastination simply because I never was one who could procrastinate at anything I did. From my law school years to the ones I have now as the CEO of an online filing services company, I learned that putting off responsibilities and assignments only creates a domino effect. Easy to do at first but it quickly becomes overwhelming when you actually decide to do it and if you aren’t careful, you may be relaying items that you yourself didn’t have the time to finish (or even start in some cases!) to other members of your team who could easily resent you as they planned ahead on their own work to avoid having this happen to them.
One of the biggest things to procrastinate on is your Outlook inbox. There’s something about a pile of unopened emails, especially the ones with the little red “attention!” exclamation points that triggers the need to ransack through them as quickly as possible. Toss out the ones of obvious unimportance first (clothing coupons, junk mail), then write back as quickly as possible to the emails from partners and affiliates.
In the world of business it’s easy to rush these emails out without taking the time to think it through because we’re quickly becoming all too accustomed to having our online correspondence replied back to in five minutes or less. Everyone’s logged into Facebook, sending out a Tweet as often as possible, and carries a smartphone at hand with their work email easy to reach, all day, every day. It’s becoming less about the content of the message inside, and simply more of another bullet on your to-do list to get rid of that shows off how productive you were for the first hour of work.
I’m all for being productive, but when it comes to emails and assignments and projects with your team and clients, thinking it through first and replying later will always yield to better results. How can you do it and break the chains of needing to hit reply back at breakneck speed? Check out my tips below!
1) Snap Decisions Can Lead to More Problems, Not Less
Don’t make any sudden decisions through email or in a meeting simply because you’re in a hurry. Though on the outset this seems like the easy way out, the outcome that you made the snap decision in may create more problems later on, leaving your company looking unprofessional and unsophisticated.
2) Tell Others You’re Thinking It Through First
If you absolutely need to reply, send off a quick one-liner like “I’ll look at this and get back to you.” This alerts the other party that you received the memo and you’re working on it but don’t want to rush your answer, especially if you’ve got other assignments on your agenda. I like to think of this as “positive procrastination” because it will yield a thoughtful response back in the end.
The worst possible thing to do here? Not reply at all. No matter how intimating the email looks, these people are counting on you to at the bare minimum confirm whether or not they can count you in on the workload.
3) It Sets You Apart
By thinking first and replying later, this effort made sets you apart from many businessmen and women. A cheerful email back or even a quick nod of acknowledgement that you received it from your iPhone shows that you keep up with your inbox and truly do care about the outcome at hand.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.