Timing of E-mails

21Oct09

As students, we don’t necessarily keep normal “work hours” like people do in industry or while working. We don’t just check our e-mail between the hours of 8 am and 5-6 pm. How do we ensure that e-mails that we send to professors or to recruiters still maintain a professional air? And is it acceptable to send e-mails at 3 am?

Gmail has a multitude of features that can help in a situation like this – you can have certain e-mails skip the inbox, for you to read and respond to them at a particular time. One of the features that I believe Gmail is missing, however, is the ability to “schedule” the sending of an e-mail. Surprisingly, Microsoft Outlook has this feature and Gmail doesn’t. I’ve used it on several occasions as it allows me to draft an e-mail at my own leisure and have it sent at a reasonable hour.

I have, for example, set up my Gmail filters so that most of my MarkUs related e-mails skip my Inbox. This may sound like I’m putting a lower priority on MarkUs, but what I am actually doing is ensuring that I am only responding to these e-mails when I am in the appropriate mindset – when I am sitting down with the intention of doing work on MarkUs and one of the items on my to do list is to go through the e-mails. Since I put aside time to work on MarkUs on most days during the week, this isn’t a problem, but I need to ensure that if I don’t on a particular week, that I do allow for time to respond to e-mails each day.

For now, when I choose to compose messages at 3 am, I will leave them as a draft and then send them in the morning. I am curious to hear your opinions on when you should and shouldn’t be sending e-mails!

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