It’s Never Too Late to Answer an Email

To make it easier, we wrote the responses for you

Kara Cutruzzula
Forge
Published in
5 min readJul 14, 2020

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Photo: kupicoo/Getty Images

You can’t see them on the first page of your inbox, but you know they’re there. Your ancient unanswered emails lurk deep inside your inbox. Invitations you forgot, interesting opportunities you accidentally ignored, long messages you barely remember reading in the early days of the quarantine haze. They’re important enough that you can’t dismiss them, but at the same time, responding now just feels… awkward.

So, what do you do with the emails that no longer feel urgent but you can’t bring yourself to answer out of embarrassment or shame or a fervent hope that the sender already forgot about your silence?

Reply anyway. Even if your response comes two days, two weeks, or two months later, it’s okay. Answering old emails feels like a secret power. You’re vanquishing time and stasis while erasing the psychological hold they have over you. Responding late is always better than not responding.

And in many cases, it never takes as much time or energy as you think. Right now, I have 55 emails that need a response. Some have been hovering for six weeks or more. I’ve definitely spent full days thinking about responding. But in reality, it would only take two to three hours to reply to them all.

The more emails that stack up, the more you lose sight of the bigger picture. You shouldn’t think of an email as a collection of sentences to skim and add to your to-do list. An email is an opportunity to define a relationship. Hitting “reply” — even after a long delay — can get your relationship back on track. That may mean strengthening it or making clear to the other person that they are more invested in the relationship than you are, but a really late email gives you…

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Kara Cutruzzula
Forge
Writer for

Author of DO IT (OR DON'T), DO IT TODAY & DO IT FOR YOURSELF. Daily newsletter: https://bit.ly/3vpPlV3