Time Management Tips for How to Respond to Email

I was reviewing older posts about email best practices when I came across one in which I’d shared detailed answers to interview questions that were posed to me by Better Homes & Gardens.


Here’s the paragraph of questions I received as part of a follow up to my interview at that time:

What should a calendar look like with periods of time scheduled for responding to emails? How much time do you recommend people block off for email work? Do you recommend scheduling this every day? Are there any times of the day to avoid? Or any times of the day that you especially recommend for responding to email?



I reread my response to her. That interview was a little more than two years ago, but my answers would still be the same if she interviewed me today.


Keeping in mind this journalist and I have been working together once or twice a year for at least five years now (which is why I can give quick email answers and set up a detailed call later), this was my response to her:


If we’re talking about work email, company policy should dictate expectations for email responses. If there’s no policy, the industry or job responsibility would dictate the email schedule. For instance, if someone works in customer service or tech support, their job is to respond immediately to email, so they should check multiple times each hour. A public relations representative for a major company is pretty much on call around the clock. An associate at a law office is at the beck and call of the partners. In professions where there is not a true emergency, email courtesy is to respond by the next business day.

If you need to generalize big time to fit the allotted print space, an ideal email schedule is to check daily near the beginning of the workday (after you’ve already identified your top priorities for the day), at midday and before the end of the day. As for the amount of time, if you can keep it to 30 minutes or less per check-in, that would be great. (When clients follow my email prevention advice, they can usually keep it to that timeframe.)

Monday mornings usually have the largest load of emails to sort through because people either thought of something or are catching up on work over the weekend, and the end result lands in your inbox. It’s not so much the time of day to respond that matters; it’s the expectations you set in the email for when deliverables are needed or when you’re available by email for the next response.

If we’re talking about personal email, once per day outside of work hours should cover it.

There are so many caveats when it comes to email. Call me if you want me to give you sample scenarios or explain my email prevention or expectations wording.



For additional tips about email management, you can browse these posts.



There are several other basic principles that will give you the foundation for more effective email management. For recommendations on what to do in various situations or for my email prevention tips or my “setting expectations” verbiage, be sure to browse chapters 14-16 in The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead?The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

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