Every few weeks I attempt to get my inbox to zero. And in the process, I inevitably come to the bottom few emails that I have let go for weeks with no reply. The person who sent them took the time to compose them and send them to me, but I never took the time to even write them back and say “I will get back to you soon”. I became Mr. I’m-Too-Busy-To-Reply-To-Emails.
And so I begin my belated reply with some sort of genuine apology. I really am sorry (and embarrassed) that I didn’t get to the person for a few weeks (and in some cases, months) and so I say genuinely apologize and ask for their forgiveness. Then I reply to their email.
And that’s the point. I do eventually reply to the person’s email. To never reply to an email is the equivalent of hiding in your house when someone rings your doorbell who knows you’re home. If it’s a salesman, or someone suspicious, you’re probably doing the right thing by hiding. But if it’s a friend? Or a church member? Or a brother or sister? You should reply to their doorbell ringing.
Likewise, if a friend, church member, or a brother or sister-in-Christ sends you an email, you should reply.
If your email volume is at the level where you need administrative help with sorting through them, then you should make sure that person gives the courtesy of a personal reply. And you should make sure your administrative helper isn’t weeding them out too heavily and keeping you from being engaged with people who are seeking you out.
There are occasions when I come across a Mr. I’m-Too-Busy-To-Reply-To-Emails. A few days go by and I figure he’s just really busy. Then a few weeks go by and I begin to get the idea that he just pressed “delete” and moved on to something he thought was more important. After a few months I just assume that person is too far-removed for me to ever be so fortunate to speak with him.
And that’s sad.
As much as you’re able, don’t become a Mr. (or Mrs.) I’m-Too-Busy-To-Reply-To-Emails. Even if, like me, it means you to have eat some humble pie and apologize to people you’ve kept waiting. Better late than never.