As a graduate student at MIT, I had the opportunity to interact with famous academics. In doing so, I noticed that many shared a fascinating and somewhat rare approach to e-mail: Their default behavior when receiving an e-mail message is to not respond.Ibid., p. 119:
Over time, I learned the philosophy driving this behavior: When it comes to e-mail, they believed, it’s the sender’s responsibility to convince the receiver that a reply is worthwhile. If you didn’t make a convincing case and sufficiently minimize the effort required by the professor to respond, you didn’t get a response.
Professorial E-mail Sorting: Do not reply to an e-mail message if any of the following applies:
- It’s ambiguous or otherwise makes it hard for you to generate a reasonable response.
- It’s not a question or proposal that interests you.
- Nothing really good would happen if you did respond and nothing really bad would happen if you didn’t.