This is particularly true if you work in an environment where there is an expectation that you will reply to email in a timely manner while still getting creative projects done.
On the surface, it seems like you have a no-win choice to make. You can either spend the entire day responding to other people’s priorities and getting none of your own completed, or you can get your own projects done and make others frustrated because they haven’t heard from you.
If you often fall into the latter category, a natural temptation is to further avoid communication when people get annoyed at you and work even harder. However, this tends to exacerbate the situation. When you don’t speak up about what’s reasonable or not reasonable and your colleagues don’t know what’s happening or not happening, they feel disrespected and ignored and you end up feeling overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there’s a third alternative that can reduce stress and increase understanding: Send a prompt initial response that still gives you control over the priorities for your day and sets expectations for your workload in general.
If you find yourself in the situation where your inbox messages and stress levels are constantly on the rise, you can use these email scripts to reply back and stake a claim over your time by setting expectations from the jump. In many cases, complex projects are a chain reaction of tasks. Most colleagues would much rather get realistic assessments of deliverable times then be ignored or receive stuff late. Save these responses as draft emails or text expanders so that you can access them quickly and then edit as necessary for a more personal touch.
When you need more time to write a thorough response:
When you need more time to make a decision:
When you feel badly that you’re sending a delayed response:
When there are multiple steps required to complete a task:
*Make sure to put a reminder in your calendar so you follow through on your promise.
When you’re working on something but haven’t completed it yet:
When you don’t know if you can take on a new project:
When your boss asks you to do an additional project without providing additional resources:
When you need to ask for a deadline extension:
I wanted to keep you informed on the status of [____] project. Due to [____], I will need to get it to you [a few days later than we initially agreed OR by ____] Thank you for your understanding. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
When someone sends you feedback you disagree with who you don’t have a personal or professional relationship with:
Consider deleting the email without a reply.
When someone sends you feedback you disagree with who you have a personal or professional relationship with:
When someone wants to meet with you sooner than you have time to meet:
When you don’t feel comfortable responding through email:
Do any of these work for you? If so, please name your preferred day, time, and phone number. If not, please suggest a few other days and times.
Over to You:
What email responses help you set expectations?