Being responsive is one of the best things you can do

How to stay ahead of your inboxes

Jonny McCormick
Mar 16, 2020 · 3 min read

Here’s something that not many people will want to admit to…less competent people get ahead all the time. One of the best ways you can get ahead is simply being responsive.

I get it. Your inbox is crazy. Slack is blowing up. Asana is crammed with tasks that you need to and people asking for updates. Your Twitter DMs are out of control. Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, LinkedIn and on and on and on. It’s the same story everywhere. You have too many incoming communications.

Here’s the thing though, most people are in similar positions. They might not be all dealing with the same volume, but it’s likely they’re dealing with some sense of overwhelm in keeping on top of it all.

The most effective people I know almost always share one quality — they’re responsive. Here are some of the best ways you can stay responsive.

For example, Arlan mentioned on her Twitter a few weeks ago how Mark Cuban was actually responding to messages from her whilst he was at the superbowl.

Pick your preferred channels

I have two preferred channels for communication: email & Whatsapp. I try and do all of my communicating through these channels. Additionally, they’re the ones that I prioritise when I’m responding because they’re often where my most important and urgent messages are.

The only time I go outside of these channels are where I have already established precedent for another one, or when I know the recipient prefers a different channel. So, for example if I know someone prefers Twitter DMs that’s where I’ll message them if I’m initiating because I’m usually the one asking for something.

Batching is your new best friend

If you’re really struggling to be responsive one of the best ways to get started is by batching your time. For example, with email instead of jumping in and responding to a few, why not put an hour in your diary and power through? You’ll be really surprised how many you can get through.

It’s easier to remain responsive when you’re starting from a good place. It’s harder when you already have 1000 unread mails that you’re feeling guilty for.

Minimise the noise

If your inbox (or any other channel for that matter) is crazy there are probably some ways you can minimise that. How many newsletters, shopping and sale updates, corporate updates, and pointless email notifications do you get?

I’d bet a lot.

This is an area that you can immediately leverage to minimise the overwhelm. Personally, I prefer to simply unsubscribe to things and in many cases when I’ve done it in the past I haven’t missed the extra content or regretted it. I subscribe to very few (4) newsletters and read them all — in fact, because I subscribe to so few I actually look forward to them. If you don’t want to do that you can use filters or other services to minimise the amount they contribute to the chaos.

It’s OK to be selective, but let people know

Here’s the thing, just because someone has emailed you doesn’t mean they are automatically deserving of your attention. However, it’s usually not very fair to just leave someone on ‘read’. If what the person is asking for is unreasonable, if it takes more time than you have available just let them know. It’s often better than waiting weeks for a response that comes too late.

9 times out of ten I’d rather receive an email from someone telling me they don’t have time to deal with my request rather than radio silence followed by a detailed response weeks too late.

Give it a go!

One of the best ways to up your game in being responsive is to just jump in with both feet. I’d love to know how you get on!

I’ve found that when people are responsive I enjoy working with them more. And, anecdotally, it seems that people value it when I’m responsive too. So, if you’re looking for a simple way to ‘level-up’ this might be a good one to explore.

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Jonny McCormick

Written by

problem solving with rosseau ltd ( podcasting at

Summit Plus

Dedicated to helping you reach the summit of your leadership potential

Jonny McCormick

Written by

problem solving with rosseau ltd ( podcasting at

Summit Plus

Dedicated to helping you reach the summit of your leadership potential

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