A recent Lifehacker post referencing an article by Francis Wade suggests that not answering your email is a symptom of time management failure, and that you can be more effective by answering emails as you receive them.
At Gist, we believe it’s important to take a “touch things fewer times” philosophy to information management, but also believe that an importance-based view of email and a recency-based email methodology for your most important contacts can be even more effective than simply touching every email as you get it.
Importance-Based Views Surface Information
Gist measures the importance of your contacts by the emails you send to them, the number of meetings where that contact appears on your calendar, and the number of accounts in which you connect to that contact. Because we help you surface the important contacts in your network and tune your Gist Dashboard to sort news according to importance, it’s likely that you might know of news, blogs and tweets for your important contacts before they send you email.
Recency-Based Views Help You to Maintain the Conversation
It’s not only sending a return email that helps you strengthen a relationship, but also the knowledge of the previous email and contact history that triggers your next action. The Gist contact detail for your contacts shows you at a glance the health and recency of your correspondence, showing you whether you’ve sent emails in the last week, within the last month, or longer than the last month. Gist helps you know which contacts are most important to you, and also highlights the history of your correspondence so that you can know whether you’re answering an important conversation, or simply replying to a first-time prospect.
Responding doesn’t mean just sending an email
So, definitely respond to that email, and don’t leave it sitting in your inbox. But do more than just send email. Gist helps you to maintain the health of your relationship with your contacts outside of email by enabling you to share information by email, Facebook, and Twitter. Ultimately, email is only one part of the conversation. Knowing which email to answer is another critical part of your information strategy. And knowing your next steps for maintaining the relationship is the final critical step to being a valuable contact.