Why you should take longer to respond to emails


Abigail Durkin

The standard time to send a business email response is 24 hours.

Abigail Durkin, Opinions Editor

At 11:30 p.m. the fluorescent light hits my eyes. I open my inbox and 27 unread emails labeled “IMPORTANT” and “Hey, Abby!” greet me. Due to my busy work and school schedule, this was the first time I had been able to check my emails all day, and even then I was multitasking- checking my emails while making dinner.

Clicking on the first email my mouse landed on, I saw that one of my teachers sent an email at 12:30 p.m. that day asking me to respond to her email by 2 p.m.

I was furious. I had no idea that this email, and I had begun preparing myself to start writing a response that was filled with as much anger as a 1-star Yelp review.  Luckily instead, I decided to close my email tab at that moment, preventing any risk of typing something I couldn’t take back. The next morning I felt refreshed and sent a well-thought-out email, and she responded letting me know that she understood and life went on.

These days with everyone on their phones 24/7, there is a huge pressure to respond to emails, text and Snapchats right away. This is causing people to always have their notifications on and their time for thought off. Prompting incomplete, vacant and confusing messages that causes the recipient to reply with the same type of response.

This never ending cycle of miscommunication is why it’s so important for people to take a step back and prioritize organizing their thoughts before replying. Now I’m not saying that you should leave the message in your inbox for a good two weeks before finally deciding to respond. That would be rude. What I am recommending to everyone is to set boundaries on your digital communication.

You can set boundaries by emailing your teachers, co-workers and classmates letting them know what hours and days you would be able to talk. Another thing you can do is respond to someone’s email letting them know that you got their email and will respond within 24 hours. These techniques are great for people who have already been introduced to your quick responses.

As for new email chains, the easiest way you can set boundaries is surprisingly by not responding right away. If you know that you will respond within 24 hours there is no need to explain yourself. By not responding you allow the recipient to learn your schedule without an unnecessary explanation.

You also might want to create boundaries for yourself, learning the difference between what is urgent and what can wait. By self-evaluating, you can find that a lot of the emails you felt pressured to respond to right away were just out of habit.  Accommodating the digital world’s fast pace and slowing down feels like a violation of 21st century social norms.

Remind yourself that there is no need to adhere to these social norms. Digital communication is on your screen and does not follow the same rules as in-person communication. Treat emails and text like you would Candy Crush or Tiktok, and understand that it’s ok to take a break from your screen.

Except if someone sends you a funny cat video- in that case, you have to respond right away.