May 10, 2013
1) Emails that you hate having to say no to.
You know the email I'm talking about. A colleague asking for a favor or an introduction. A family friend asking if you can pass their resume along. An organization asking you to sponsor their event.
If you're having trouble saying no or declining something and that's why the email has been sitting in your inbox, consider having a friend or colleague draft a response for you. Sometimes it's easier for someone who isn't emotionally tied to the response to craft a reply.
Here's the deal: your email has been accumulating because you don't have the time to answer it properly, which is certainly reasonable and accurate. You also fear losing track of the email you haven't responded to -- that it will fall between the cracks. This fear is also reasonable and accurate. But you're just as keenly aware that with the backlog of email you have plus the increasing rate of incoming messages you receive each day, you can't possibly ever catch up. This, sadly, is also entirely reasonable and accurate. It's all reasonable and it's all accurate, but come on: something's gotta give.
Offline Attack: Do not underestimate the power of momentum when responding to emails. Nothing is more emotionally defeating than spending 2 hours in your inbox and having a net gain of only 2 emails completed because responses were coming in as fast as you were sending them out or because you got into a game of "email tennis" with someone who obviously has more time on their hands than you do. Instead, work "offline" every single time you answer emails. That way you can focus on what you are doing and you can capitalize on the synergy that comes along with getting into a rhythm of responding.