- Wait: Flag the e-mail and ignore it for at least an hour. This allows for the sender to change his/her mind or send updated drafts, request forms, etc. — and prevents you from doing needless work!
- Stall: This tactic is especially helpful when dealing with crazy people or nonsensical projects. Send a quick e-mail back with a request of your own! Ask for background information, examples or “strategic guidance.” This will usually take the sender a while to gather. WARNING: This tactic may backfire, i.e. lead to the dreaded conference call.
Forget: Not that I ever forget about anything … but I understand some things inevitably slip through the cracks. If you find yourself scrolling through e-mails one day and notice a flagged request that is more than two weeks old, consider ignoring. Chances are the sender has forgotten about it too! (Otherwise he/she would be hounding you about it, no?) Rather than draw attention to your tardiness by following up, simply delete from your inbox and conscience.
Isn’t it wonderful how every problem can be solved with a simple PowerPoint graphic and a few bullet points? I think so too.