Take an axe to your inbox with ruthless responses.

I’ve become an email killer.

It’s not that I hate email, it’s that I hate email backlog. It happens to the best of us. We save emails that we can’t initially reply to yet, we hold onto emails that we want to dive into at a later date and we keep emails as a reminder of an action we have to take. The result is usually a very full inbox staring back at us as we try to get the stuff done that actually matters.

I’m not saying that individual emails don’t matter; often they contain information or are from people that do matter. What I am saying is that email as a whole doesn’t matter. Living in your inbox dwelling with your emails is like hanging out at the post office trying to do other work while you wait for your mail to arrive. I highly doubt any of us sit by our mailbox waiting for the mailman to arrive, or leave mail unopened as reminders that we have to deal with it later. Sure, some of us open mail and dedicate time to dealing with it later but it’s a visual item. Unlike email, it isn’t as easy to bury.

Rather than discuss ways to get through your email or how to categorize it either through filters or some other strategy, I’m going to offer 3 email responses that will annihilate your email and get your mind out of your inbox and back onto what matters — and allow you to avoid email bankruptcy. Each response is appropriate for certain circumstances — of which there are really only three:

1. Timely follow-up correspondence is needed.
2. No follow-up needed.
3. No need for it at all.

Feel free to use these email responses so that you can push through your inbox and get on with what you need to focus on — just make sure you replace the generic text with what you need to address, as well as the appropriate salutations and signature. Save these either as a text file, as a TextExpander snippet or in Gmail as a “canned response” — or whatever works best for your setup.

Follow-up Email Needed

Thank you for your email. I’m glad you reached out to contact me regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

That said, while I’m interested in what you’ve offered, my time is at a premium these days. I’ll give the matter further thought and will get back to you within the next “X” business days. If you require an answer sooner than that, simply respond to this email and give me a timetable so I can see if I can make something happen on my end.

Again, thanks for your email and I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

Follow-up Email Not Needed

Thanks for your email regarding INSERT SUBJECT HERE. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to give me a heads up on this.

Unfortunately, it’s not something that I’m willing to take on at this time as I have other matters that require my attention.

Again, thank you for reaching out to me and good luck with INSERT SUBJECT HERE.

No Need to Respond

Delete it. Now.

(And yes, deleting an email is a response. Either to you or to the sender, depending on the subject matter.)

Let the Ruthlessness Begin

There’s no sense in using your email inbox as a place to manage your tasks, projects and communication. Just like you don’t leave mail piling up in your mailbox, you shouldn’t leave email piling up in your inbox. It’s impractical on so many levels, primarily to your productivity. Email responses should be dealt with in a thoughtful and efficient manner — not swept under the rug. The best way to break the habit of email hoarding is by being ruthless with your inbox.

Start using these responses today and you’ll find that your time in your email inbox will be lessened and your time delivering actionable results on what you really need to do will be enhanced. You’ll escape the rapture of the inbox and reap the rewards of conquering it.

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