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Snow, rain, heat or gloom of night, don’t overlook your email

    Imagine the horror of going on a fantastic vacation only to return to so many emails that it takes another week to plod through them.
Dennis Grubaugh head shot    I did just that in March — and many of you do it every time you leave town.
    The miracle of modern technology allows us to be inundated with email, but it’s not smart enough to delete most of the trash. When it comes to the junk folder, we still have to sneak a peek, just to make sure that we haven’t 1) overlooked a potential gem or 2) slighted Aunt Edna.
    I returned from a cruise of the Caribbean to hundreds of emails. I chose only to check in at a bare minimum during the trip so as to avoid the ship’s exorbitant prices for Internet service. I paid for that choice through time and agony during the next week, meticulously plodding through until I got to the end.
What do other people do, I wondered.
    It turns out some people have terrible Internet habits — and it may be costing them money.
    A recent national study shows that 52 percent of people expect you to respond within 12 to 24 hours to your work email. For most people that means same-day response.
    The people at, which is an app that makes email on your smartphone more like text messaging, conducted the study in an attempt to see how long it takes people to answer personal vs. business email.
    MailTime studied a sample of 1,500 men and women to evaluate email etiquette.
    The results are eye-opening for anyone who focuses on the bottom line:

    Work email

  •     Most people expect you to answer work emails within 24 hours (52 percent)
  •     19 percent expect you to answer work email within 12 hours
  •     Almost no one tolerates you answering business email within one week (3 percent)

    Personal email

  •     People are more forgiving. Most expect you to answer personal emails for up to two days (60 percent )
  •     10 percent are OK with your personal email response time being one week

    I’m as bad as most people. Mailtime sent me an email with the results of its study in December, but it took me a while to get around to it.
    Many important deals get done purely through electronic messaging. It’s a sign of our times that the art of telephone conversation has grown archaic.
    Common sense tells you that if you have certain things in business that must be done every day that you set them as a priority. Email has got to be one of those tasks, tedious as it seems. You go through snail mail every day, looking for important stuff. Why shouldn’t you do the same with email?
    Don’t blame me for reminding you of the obvious. I’m just the messenger. However, I’m also a businessman. I’m not going to write you an email unless I expect a response. Sooner than later.
    Dennis Grubaugh is editor and partner of the Illinois Business Journal

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