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Manage that e-mail ‘ping’ like a master

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

An inbox overflowing with messages isn’t a new phenomenon. Nearly a century ago, journalist and essayist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) replied to “fan mail” daily, believing that one should answer letters on the same day they are received.

It wasn’t easy. Some days he received 80 letters. And his standards for correspondence were high: His replies were not only on time, but were witty, well-penned responses. In all, he wrote 100,000 letters.

What can we learn about managing e-mail from such an excellent corresponder?

For starters, it’s worth noting that Mencken wasn’t bombarded with constant visits from the postal service, which in those days picked up and delivered mail twice daily. It was frequent enough for Mencken to arrange to meet a friend on the same day that he extended an invitation. But it wasn’t so frequent as to interrupt his work.

Fast-forward to today. Think about the advice given by time-management experts: Keep your “ping” turned off and only check e-mail a handful of times a day.

Mencken’s 100,000 letters serve as inspiration: We can handle more e-mail correspondence than we think we can, but only if we handle it at the times of our own choosing.

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