The Great Email Debate: 24 Hours or ASAP?

Whether you work for yourself or someone else, most of your business communication probably comes through email. The problem is, mail is flying at you all day long. So how do you get your work done without leaving people hanging? Do you reply ASAP or within 24 Hours?

Answering emails on the go

The Case for Replying ASAP

An email comes in, you see the notification and you open the message immediately. You formulate your response and send it off within a couple minutes. 

This approach lets your customers, colleagues, and bosses know that you’re paying attention. You are making them a priority. You’re eager to help.

This is an especially good practice if you work in a business where clients send bid requests to several competitors at once. Being the fastest responder could mean landing the most jobs.

Answering emails at the computer

The Case for Replying Within 24 Hours

The problem with answering ASAP is that you’re constantly interrupted. Welcome to team 24 hours. It’s not to say that you neverreply quickly, but you give yourself more time. As long as emails get answered within a day, no problem.

The benefit is that you have time to focus on your work. You can limit your email-checking to times when it’s most convenient and give each sender a more thoughtful response. As a bonus, you’re reinforcing the value of your time.

Other Options

The best choice of all might fall somewhere in between. For example, I’m team ASAP from my years as an independent book indexer bidding on projects. Now if I need more time, I take it. But I still never leave the office until everything in my inbox is answered. 

Here are some options that might work for you.

  • Answer immediately, but only during work hours
  • Answer within 1-2 hours
  • Answer easy questions immediately, and complex questions within 24 hours
  • Answer all emails at set times (10:00 am and 3:00 pm, for example)
  • Answer with an auto reply that tells the sender when to expect a response
Happy woman with computer

Whichever way you go, be consistent and make sure it works for the needs of your business. 

What about you? 24 hours or ASAP? Comment below!

—Written by Nina Ottman

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