It may be okay to wait three days to reply to an email―just not when it is from your programmer

Published on: January 15, 2016

You've probably done it: an email comes in from your programmer with questions that are a little hard or complicated to answer, so you decide to wait until tomorrow to reply.

But then tomorrow becomes the day after tomorrow, and before you know it, your reply has been postponed forever.

After 2-3 days, one of these two things happens:

1. The programmer becomes engaged with other tasks because your pending reply prevents him/her from continuing to work on your project.

At best, you will be prioritized; at worst, forgotten. The longer you wait to give your response, the worse it will be.

2. The programmer decides how to solve the task on his own, and simply hopes that his solution is the right one―which is rarely the case.

Reply to emails right away!

If you cannot answer all the questions at once, then just answer what you can.

The most important thing is to keep the process running so your programmer continues on your tasks. Open dialogue and questions can save you both time and money.

If you answer after 2-3 weeks, your programmer will probably forget what it's about, and will not be able to deliver the best quality output and make the most of the time to solve the task.

Why is it hard to reply to emails?

It’s because there are many things to consider that often require a lot of research, which is both difficult and time-consuming.

Besides, if you give the wrong answer, it may cost a lot of money in re-programming or doing the whole thing all over again. Still, it does not help to completely ignore emails either.

You have three choices if you’re still unsure on what to answer:

1. Put the project on hold while you’re still formulating your answer.

However, there is a risk that the programmer does not have the time to work on your project again as soon as you’re ready with the answers.

2. Make a quick decision with the facts you already know and hope it's enough.

3. Wait three weeks before answering.

If you do, then your programmer has most likely moved on to other projects already, and has completely left your task. Your time and the quality of your project output gets affected. The programmer will need to re-immerse himself in your project, and you pay for the time consumed for that too.

You should then answer immediately, and save both time and money.

Our first intuition is often right, so be careful not to worry too much when replying to your programmer’s questions. The clock is ticking, and your competitors are not far behind.

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